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Spinebill is the name given to two members of the honeyeater family, both in the genus Acanthorhynchus, which is Latin for "spine bill". They are around 15 centimetres in length, and are coloured black, white and chestnut, with a long, downcurved bill. They are native to Australia, with one species in the east and one in the west. They feed on nectar as well as insects, and live mainly in forests, gardens, and other shrubbery habitats.

Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris ANBG.jpg
Eastern spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Meliphagidae
Genus: Acanthorhynchus
Gould, 1837[1]

Acanthorhynchus superciliosus
Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris

A 2004 molecular study has shown that the two spinebills are a sister grouping to all other honeyeaters, that is, they diverged earlier than all other species.[2]


Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Acanthorhynchus superciliosus Western spinebill south-western Australia
  Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris Eastern spinebill North Queensland south through New South Wales, eastern South Australia as well as throughout Tasmania


  1. ^ Gould, J. (1837). "Characteristics of New Species of Australian Birds". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 6: 24–25.
  2. ^ Driskell, Amy C.; Christidis, Les (2004). "Phylogeny and evolution of the Australo-Papuan honeyeaters (Passeriformes, Meliphagidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 31 (3): 943–60. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.10.017. PMID 15120392. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-01.

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