Prietella lundbergi

Walsh and Gilbert 1995







Only a holotype has been assigned: UNAM 7705, 45.2mm SL, female.


Type locality: Nacimiento de San Rafael de Los Castros, c. 15 km WNW of Ciudad Mante, Tamaulipas State, México (22o45’N, 99o05’W). This thermal resurgence cave is situated in the Sierra de El Abra (part of the Sierra Madre Oriental range). Epigean, eyed, Astyanax mexicanus, have been recorded from The Nacimiento de San Rafael de Los Castros (Mitchell, Russell and Elliott 1977).  P. lundbergi has now been discovered in Cueva del Nacimiento del Río Frío, Tamaulipas (Hendrickson, Krejca and Rodriguez Martinez 2001).


The true habitat of this animal is not known. The holotype was collected from a depth of 4.5m at top of a deep, thermal (26.7oC), vauclusian rising. The substrate at this point was of silt and bedrock. In normal conditions this rising is not active but after rain it does resurge. It is possible that this outward flow will transport individuals from their true habitat which is deeper into the cave. Since two other hypogean ictalurids, Trogloglanis pattersoni and Satan eurystomus, are found in very deep artesian waters is in quite possible that P. lundbergi is also ‘speleo-bathyal’.


Most closely related to its hypogean congener Prietella phreatophila which is, however, found over 600 km away. Detailed studies the four North and Central American troglobitic ictalurids Satan eurystomus, Trogloglanis pattersoni, Prietella phreatophila and P. lundbergi  by Arce et al. (2017) suggest that they form a monophyletic group with fifteen synapomorphies: 1. Absence of eyes, 2. depigmentation, 3. Fifth vertebra, 4. Lateral line extent, 5. Mesethmoid cornua, 6. Anterior cranial fontanel, 7. Descending wing of frontal, 8. Supraoccipital posterior process, 9. Pterotic wings, 10. Parasphenoid and orbitosphenoid, 11. Abductor arcus palatine scars, 12. Anterior ceratohyal-ventral hypohyal joint, 13. Dorsal hypohyal, 14. Upper hypurals, 15. Transcapular ligament ossification. It would be highly valuable to compare these anatomical synapomorphies with those from molecular markers. This group of four is the sister group to all other ictalurids in the analysis and they presumably share a last common ancestor which lived in the northern Mexico area.

Conservation Status

MuG [VU D2:3.1:2009]

VU D2:3.1:2009. (Snoeks, J., Laleye, P. & Contreras-MacBeath, T. 2009. Prietella lundbergi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: Downloaded on 07 July 2017). Assessed as Vulnerable due to it inhabiting only two locations. P. lundbergi's very restricted distribution makes it extremely vulnerable to threats, such as water pollution, which would rapidly affect all the individuals in the population. However, it is mainly threatened by large-scale water extraction.

E (Contreras-Balderas, Almada-Villela, Lozano-Vilano and Garcia-Ramirez 2003). Since it may have a very limited range, and lives in a habitat that may be seriously affected by human disturbance (pollution, potential water abstraction etc), this species may be classed as endangered by the Mexican Government (H. E. Perez in Walsh and Gilbert 1995).

Museum Holdings

As above only.

Internet Resources

Genbank sequences

Genbank accession no. Gene Voucher Source
AY458865.1 mt cytb none Wilcox et al. 2004
AY458864.1 mt cytb

TNHC 25767-68

Wilcox et al. 2004
AY458867.1 mt 12s, 16s ribosomal none Wilcox et al. 2004
AY458866.1 mt 12s, 16s ribosomal

TNHC 25767-68

Wilcox et al. 2004


Key References

Taylor, W. R. Thesis 1955 A revision of the genus Noturus Rafinesque with a contribution to the classification of the North American catfishes
Hendrickson, D.A. Journal Article 1995 Miscellaneous notes on biogeography and biology of Mexican blind catfish of the genus Prietella
Walsh, S. J. and Gilbert, C. R. Journal Article 1995 New species of troglobitic catfish of the genus Prietella (Siluriformes, Ictaluridae) from Northeastern Mexico
Hendrickson, D.A. Journal Article 1996 Notes on biogeography, ecology and behaviour of Mexican blind catfish, genus Prietella (Ictaulridae)
Hendrickson, D.A. and Krejca, J. Journal Article 1997 Notes on biogeography, ecology and behaviour of Mexcan blind catfish, genus Prietella (Ictaluridae)
Hendrickson, D.A. and Krecja, J. Journal Article 1998 Blindcats of the genus Prietella (Ictualuridae) of northeastern Mexico: an overview of recent explorations and studies
Garcia de Leon, F.J., Hendrickson, D.A. and Hillis, D.M. Journal Article 1998 Molecular phylogeny of Ictaluridae with emphasis on the Mexican blindcats, genus Prietella
Hendrickson, D.A., Krejca, J. and Rodriguez Martinez, J.M. Journal Article 1998 Blind catfish (Prietella: Ictaluridae) phylogenies and troglobitic invertebrates as indicators of international (Mexico-USA) subterranean aquatic interconnections, and as tools for environmental risk assessment
Villalobos, J.L., Alvarez, F. and Iliffe, T.M. Journal Article 1999 New species of troglobitic shrimps from Mexico, with the description of Troglomexicanus, new genus (Decapoda: Palaemonidae)
Hendrickson, D.A., Krejca, J. and Rodriguez Martinez, J.M. Journal Article 2001 Mexican blindcats genus Prietella (Siluriformes: Ictaluridae): An overview of recent explorations
Krejca, J. Journal Article 2003 The Mexican blindcat (Prietella phreatophila): Research and exploration in the groundwater
Contreras-Balderas, S, Almada-Villela, P, Lozano-Vilano, M de L and Garcia-Ramirez, ME Journal Article 2003 Freshwater fish at risk or extinct in Mexico
Wilcox, T.P., Garcia de Leon, F.J., Hendrickson, D.A. and Hillis, D.M. Journal Article 2004 Convergence among cave catfishes: long-branch attraction and a Bayesian relative rates test
Sullivan, JP, Lundberg, J. G. and Hardman, M Journal Article 2006 A phylogenetic analysis of the major groups of catfishes (Teleostei: Siluriformes) using rag1 and rag2 nuclear gene sequences
Contreras-Balderas, S and others, 13 Journal Article 2008 Freshwater fishes and water status in México: A country-wide appraisal
Valdez-Moreno, M., Ivanova, N.V., Elias-Gutierrez, M., Contreras-Balderas, S. and Herbert, P.D.N. Journal Article 2009 Probing diversity in freshwater fishes from Mexico and Guatemala with DNA barcodes
Dahdul, W.M., Lundberg, J.G., Midford, P.E., Balhoff, J.P., Lapp, H., Vision, T.J., Haendel, M.A., Westerfield, M. and Mabee, P.M. Journal Article 2010 The Teleost anatomy ontology: Anatomocal representation for the genomics age
Egge, J.J.D. Book Section 2010 Systematics if ictalurid catfishes: a review of the evidence
Palacios-Vargas, J.G., Juberthie, C. and Reddell, J. Book 2014-2015 Encyclopaedia Biospeologica Mexico
Hendrickson, D.A., Johnson, J., Sprouse, P.S., Howard, S., Garrett, G.P. Krejca, J.K., Gluesenkamp, W., Paulín, J.A.D., Dugan, L., Cohen, A.E., Espriú, A.H., Sullivan, J.P., Fenol, D.B., Karges, J., Smith, R., García De León, F.J., Wolaver, B. and Reddell Conference Paper 2016 Discovery of the Mexican Blindcat, Prietella phreatophila in the U.S and an update on its rangewide conservation status
Coleman, W.T., Hutchins, B.T. and Schwartz, B.F. Conference Paper 2016 Dynamics of detectability: Insights from high-frequency sampling at a stygobiont hot-spot, Edwards Aquifer, Texas
Hutchins, B.T., Engel, A.S., Nowlin, W.H. and Schwartz, B.F. Conference Paper 2016 Biodiversity, stability, and trophic complexity in the Edwards Aquifer, United States: The influence of chemolithoautotrophy on stygobiont community structure
Hutchins, B.T. Conference Paper 2016 Conservation status of stygobionts in Texas, United States.
Sinatra, C.S. Web Page 2016 Rare, blind catfish never before found in U.S. discovered in Texas
Hendrickson, D.A., Hernández‐ Espriú, A., Dugan, L., Sprouse, P., Dávila Paulín, J.A., Krejca, J., Gluesenkamp, A., Reddell, J., Smith, R., Howard, S., Johnson, J., Garrett, G.P., Cohen, A.E., García De León, F.J., Wolaver, B.P. and Fenolio, D.B. Conference Paper 2017 Discovery of endangered Mexican Blindcat, Prietella phreatophila , in Texas: Implications for international groundwater management and evolution of the regional karst aquifer biota
Arce, M., Lundberg, J.G. and O'Leary, M.A. Journal Article 2017 Phylogeny of the North American catfish Family Ictaluridae (Teleostei: Siluriformes) combining morphology, genes and fossils
Lundberg, J.G., Hendrickson, D.A., Luckenbill, K.R. and Arce, M. Journal Article 2017 Satan's skeleton revealed: a tomographic and comparative osteology of Satan eurystomus, the subterranean Widemouth Blindcat (Siluriformes, Ictaluridae)
Gluesenkamp, A. Hendrickson, D.A. and Sprouse, P.S. Journal Article 2018 The Mexican Blindcat Project: new discoveries and future efforts
Burr, B.M., Warren, M.L. and Bennett, M.G. Book Section 2020 Ictaluridae: North American catfishes
Warren, M.L. and Burr, B.M. Book 2020 Freshwater fishes of North America. Volume 2 Characidae to Poeciliidae