Small, dumpy bird with a short tail and long legs. Males have a black face and chestnut breast (all dark in the subspecies snethlageae, “Black-breasted Gnateater”), and are otherwise brown above and white below. Note the bold white eyebrow. Females have a light chestnut face and narrower eyebrow. Inhabits the understory of humid forest with very dense vegetation, occasionally attending army-ant swarms. Usually very difficult to catch sight of. The song is a fast, high accelerating rattle, and the call is a sharp “chief” note.