Uegitglanis zammaranoi

Gianferrari 1923

Uegitglanis zammaranoi
A display of aggressive behaviour. From Berti, Ercolini and Cianfanelli (1993)


Historical notes

This species was discovered by an Italian army officer, VittorioTedesco Zammarano, who collected the first specimens from a well in the village of Uegit, southern Somalia, at an unknown date. Sent to Italy, the fish was described by Dr Luisa Gianferrari, Curator of Zoology at the Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano. (Details from Berti and Messana 2010). The name derives from the name of the village, Uegit, glanis referring to a catfish, and the name of the collector.


Uegitglanis zammaranoi baidoaensis  Parenzan 1938




Holotype: MSNM 37 (ex MSNM 4281a) 101mm TL. Paratypes: BMNH 1925.10.21:1, BMNH 1927.10.21:1, MNHN 1924-220 (ex MSNM), USNM 93131. This species is the type species by monotypy of the cave restricted genus Uegitglanis and the genus is the type genus of the monotypic family Uegitglanididae.


Distributed over a large area in southern Somalia, details given below (Ercolini, Berti, Chelazzi and Messana 1982) (3o48’N, 43o14’E).

Locality Latitude Longitude Altitude(m)
Uegit * 03o48'30"N 43o14'47"E 406
Baidoa No. 1 03o07'19"N 43o38'18"E 485
Baidoa No. 2 03o06'39"N 43o37'38"E 490
Manas 02o52'43"N 43o28'22"E 442
Siggia 03o56'30"N 43o24'  E



Distribution of Uegitglanis zammaranoi. * = type locality


This animal probably inhabits small but very extensive phreatic groundwater cavities. Messana, Chelazzi and Baccetti (1985) record that while most of the karstic system of Somalia is composed of small cavities there are exceptions and some large cavities exist (e.g. Manas and Taleh). Andreoli (1981) provided details of the flora present in the waters inhabited by Uegitglanis. These may provide a basis for the ecosystem.


Chardon (1968:146‑152) made a thorough study of various anatomical features in siluriform fishes, particularly the Weberian apparatus. His results suggest that U. zammaranoi is, in many respects, intermediate in form between typical members of the Clariidae and Bagridae. It appears to be a very primitive animal, perhaps the last representative of an archaic fauna. These characteristics suggest that it should be placed in its own family the Uegitglanididae but this has not been followed in the literature.

Diogo et al. (2003), also de Pinna (1993) and de Pinna (1998), have suggested, on morphological grounds, that the most basal member of the Family Clariidae is Horaglanis, and that the next most basal is Uegitglanis.

Conservation Status

MG [VU D2:3.1:2010]

(Getahun, A. 2010. Uegitglanis zammaranoi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: Downloaded on 03 July 2017). VU B1+2c (IUCN, 1996, 2000). In large areas of Somalia pumps are now being used to remove water from wells. If this is carried out over a long period without replenishment of ground water by rain the water table will inevitably fall. This would pose a serious threat to this species and the other two cave‑dwelling species in this country, Barbopsis devecchii and Garra andruzzii.

This species is found in Ecoregion 83 (Horn) of Thieme et al. (2005). This is a xeric area which is nationally important faunistically, with a conservation status of relatively stable and a priority class of 5 (Brown and Thieme 2005).

Museum Holdings

Eighty two specimens at the Instituto di Zoologia dell' Universita di Firenze, Centro di Studio per la Faunistica ed Ecologia Tropicali del Consiglio Nazionali delle Ricerche, Firenze (Ercolini, Berti, Chelazzi and Messana, 1982). Possibly ten specimens at the Centre Albert Michotte, Universite de Louvain, Belgium (Thines 1958).

Key References

Gianferrari, L. Journal Article 1923 Uegitglanis zammaranoi Un nuovo Siluride cieco Africano
Gianferrari, L. Journal Article 1925 Sur la dentatura di Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianf
Gianferrari, L. Journal Article 1932 Elenco dei pesci cavernicoli e loro disribuzione geografica
Gianferrari, L. Journal Article 1933 Nuovov catture di Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianf
David, L. Journal Article 1936 Uegitglanis, Silure aveugle de la Somalie Italienne. Chainon entre Bagrides et Clariides
Gianferrari, L. Journal Article 1937 Su la vescica natatoria di Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gian
Parenzan, P. Journal Article 1939 Pesci del acque sotterranee della Somalia
Tortonese, E. Journal Article 1952 Intorno al Siluroide cieco Uegitglanis zammaranoi (Gianf.) con particolare riguardo ai dispositivi respiratori
Thines, G. Journal Article 1958 Observations sur les habitats de Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari, 1923, clariidae aveugle de la Somalie Italienne
Olivereau, M. Journal Article 1960 Etude anatomique et histologique de la glande thyroide d'Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari, poisson aveugle et cavernicole, comparaison avec un Clariidae voisin, Clarias buthupogon A. Dum
Chardon, M. Journal Article 1968 Anatomie comparee de l'appareil de Weber et des structures connexes chez les Siluriformes
Bianchi, S. Journal Article 1975 Preliminary observations on the epidermis of Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari (Clariidae, Siluriformes)
Ercolini, A. and Berti, R. Journal Article 1977 Morphology and response to light of Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari, anophthalmic phreatic fish from Somalia
Bianchi, S. Journal Article 1978 Indagine preliminare sulla topografia delle cellule neurosecerenti a secreto fuscinoparaldeide positivo nel S.N.C. di Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari, pesce freatico anoftalmo della Somalia
Bianchi, S. Journal Article 1978 La cellule mucose e l'istochimica dei mucopolisaccaridi nell' epitelio olfatttivo di Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari (Clariidae, Siluriformes), pesce freatico anogtalmo delle Somalia
Bianchi, S., Delfino, G. and Ercolini, A. Journal Article 1978 Morphology and fine structure of the olfactory organ in Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari (Clariidae, Siluriformes),anophthalmic phreatic fish from Somalia
Messana, G. Journal Article 1979 Groundwater research by the "Centro di studio par la faunistica ed ecologia tropicali" in Somalia
Berti, R. and Ercolini, A. Journal Article 1979 Aggressive bahviour in the anophthalmic phreatic fish Uegitglanis zammaranoi (Clariidae, Siluriformes)
Andreoli, C. Journal Article 1981 La flora algale presente in due particolari pozzi della Somalia meridionale
Ercolini, A., Berti, R. and Cianfanelli, A. Journal Article 1981 Aggressive behaviour in Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari (Clariidae, Siluriformes), anophthalmic phreatic fish from Somalia
Ercolini, A., Berti, R., Chelazzi, L. and Messana, G. Journal Article 1982 Researches on the phreatobitic fishes of Somalia: Acheivements and prospects
Jankowska, M. and Thines, G. Journal Article 1982 Etude comparative de la densite de groupes de poissons cavernicoles et epigee (Characidae, Cyprinidae, Clariidae)
Berti, R., Ercolini, A. and Cianfanelli, A. Journal Article 1983 The aggressive behaviour repertoir of an anophthalmic phreatic fish, Uegitglanis zammaranoi
Messana, G., Chelazzi, L. and Baccetti, N. Journal Article 1985 Biospeleology of Somalia: Mugdile and Showli Berdi caves
Teugels, G. G. Book Section 1986 Uegitglanis zammaranoi Gianferrari, 1923
Messana, G. and Chelazzi, L. Journal Article 1986 The fauna of the subterranean waters of East Africa, and particularly of Somalia
Benvenuti, G., Hussein Salad, M., Omar Shire, Y. and Valllario, A. Journal Article 1987 Problematiche idrogeologiche e sistema delle risorse idriche delle formatzione di Baidoa nella regione di Bay (Somalia sud-occidentale)
Ercolini, A., Berti, R., Chelazzi, L. and Messana, G. Journal Article 1987 Oxygen consumption in hypogean and epigean cyprinids (Pisces)
de Pinna, M.C.C. Thesis 1993 Higher-levelphylogeny of Siluriformes,with a new classication of the order (Teleostei, Ostariophysi).
Messana, G. Book Section 2001 Somalia
Teugels, G.G. and Adriaens, D. Book Section 2003 Taxonomy and phylogeny of Clariidae - an overview
Diogo, R., Chardon, M. and Vandewalle, P. Journal Article 2003 On the osteology and myology of the cephalic region and pectoral girdle of Heteropneustes fossilis (Siluriformes: Heteropneustidae), with comments on the phylogenetic relationships between Heteropneustes and clariid fishes
Thieme, M.L., Abell, R., Stiassny, M.L.J.,Skelton, P., Lehner, B., Teugels, G., Dinerstein, E., Kamdem-Toham, A., Burgess, B., and Olson, D. Book 2005 Freshwater ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar. A conservation assessment
Brown, A. and Thieme, M. Book Section 2005 Ecoregion 83. Horn
Agnese, J.F. and Teugels, G. Journal Article 2005 Insight into the phylogeny of African Clariidae (Teleostei, Siluriformes); Implications for their body shape evolution, biogeography, and taxonomy
Paglianti, A, Messana, G, Cianfanelli, A and Berti, R Journal Article 2006 Is the perception of their own odour effective in orienting the exploratory activity of cave fishes?
Berti, R. and Messana, G. Book Section 2010 Subterranean fishes of Africa
Laumanns, M. Journal Article 2017 Atlas of the Great caves and the karst of Africa. Volume 2. Malawi to Zimbabwe and general references