Nuclear DNA from a 180-year-old study skin reveals the phylogenetic position of the Kinglet Calyptura Calyptura cristata (Passeriformse: Tyrrannides)

The Kinglet Calyptura Calyptura cristata is one of the most enigmatic bird species in South America, known only from specimens collected in the 19th century and a few recent observations. Knowledge of its biology is scanty and its systematic position is obscure. Traditionally, Calyptura was placed in the Cotingidae, but associated with genera that are now known to fall outside the Cotingidae. In an attempt to clarify its phylogenetic position, sequence data from four nuclear markers were obtained from a 180-year-old museum study skin of Calyptura, and incorporated into a comprehensive dataset of tyrant flycatchers, cotingas, manakins and allies. Our analyses demonstrate that Calyptura is most closely related to Platyrinchus and Neopipo and that these three genera constitute a deep branch in the clade containing the Rhynchocyclidae (todytyrants and flatbills) and Tyrannidae (typical tyrant flycatchers). The Calyptura specimen is one of the oldest avian museum specimens from which a substantial amount of nuclear DNA sequence data have been obtained, and highlights the immense value of museum collections for DNA-based phylogenetic studies.