We present the first dated higher-level phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of the butterfly family Riodinidae. This family is distributed worldwide, but more than 90% of the c. 1500 species are found in the Neotropics, while the c. 120 Old World species are concentrated in the Southeast Asian tropics, with minor Afrotropical and Australasian tropical radiations, and few temperate species. Morphologically based higher classification is partly unresolved, with genera incompletely assigned to tribes. Using 3666. bp from one mitochondrial and four nuclear markers for each of 23 outgroups and 178 riodinid taxa representing all subfamilies, tribes and subtribes, and 98 out of 145 described genera of riodinids, we estimate that Riodinidae split from Lycaenidae about 96. Mya in the mid-Cretaceous and started to diversify about 81. Mya. The Riodinidae are monophyletic and originated in the Neotropics, most likely in lowland proto-Amazonia. Neither the subfamily Euselasiinae nor the Nemeobiinae are monophyletic as currently constituted. The enigmatic, monotypic Neotropical genera Styx and Corrachia (most recently treated in Euselasiinae: Corrachiini) are highly supported as derived taxa in the Old World Nemeobiinae, with dispersal most likely occurring across the Beringia land bridge during the Oligocene. Styx and Corrachia, together with all other nemeobiines, are the only exclusively Primulaceae-feeding riodinids. The steadily increasing proliferation of the Neotropical Riodininae subfamily contrasts with the decrease in diversification in the Old World, and may provide insights into factors influencing the diversification rate of this relatively ancient clade of Neotropical insects.
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