A research team has discovered three never before documented bird species in West Africa. Two of the three species of forest robins, which all look pretty much alike at first glance, live in close proximity to one another in an area that lacks significant geographic barriers typically associated with the forming of new species. Despite this, the birds don't share genetic makeup and their appearance is indeed somewhat distinct when closely analyzed.
They are named Stiphrornis dahomeyensis or the Dahomey Forest Robin found in Benin and the central region of Ghana, the Stiphrornis inexpectatus or Ghana Forest Robin collected from Brong-Ahafo and Central Regions of Ghana, and the Stiphrornis rudderi or Rudder's Forest Robin discovered along the Congo River near Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
For the experts: We describe three new species of forest robin in the genus Stiphrornis; two from West Africa and one from the Congo Basin. Each species represents a distinct phylogenetic lineage based on genetic analysis. In addition to genetic differentiation, each new species is diagnosable from other Stiphrornis lineages by morphology, and by plumage. One of the new species appears to be restricted to the Central and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana, and another is restricted to Benin and the Central Region of Ghana. In Ghana, these two new species presumably come into contact with Stiphrornis erythrothorax (Western Region of Ghana and westward), and there is evidence that one of the new species has a distinguishably different song from erythrothorax. The distribution of the third new species is primarily on the south bank of the Congo River, near the city of Kisangani. Recognition of these species provides additional evidence that Afrotropical forests are harbouring substantial cryptic diversity, and that our knowledge of the drivers of this diversity remains poorly documented across the region.