Typhlias pearsei

Hubbs 1938

Typhlias pearsei
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Chumba-Segura (1983)


Typhlisina pearsei  Whitley 1951

Ogilbia pearsei  (Hubbs 1938) Cohen and Nielson 1978

These names have been variously misspelt by numerous authors, Reddell (1981:245-246) provides a full list to that date




Holotype: UMMZ 116094 adult male 90.5mm SL. Paratype: UMMZ 116095 immature specimen 41mm SL.


Type locality: Grutas de Balankanche (or Balaam Canche), 5 km from Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Known also from: Cenote de Hoctun, Cenote del Pochote, Grutas de Tzab‑Nah, Cenote de Calchuhuim (Reddell 1981:246), and Cenote Xebiz (specimen UMMZ 190412) in the same area (20-21oN, 89-91oW). In all but Cenote de Calchuhuim and Cenote Xebiz this species coexists with Ophisternon infernale. Also recorded from cenotes in and around Mayan Blue Cenote on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula (Pohlman, Iliffe and Cifuentes 1997; Pohlman, Cifuentes and Iliffe 2000). Known also from Cenotes Tábano, Odyssey, Muknal and Bang which are part of the very extensive Ox Bel Ha system in eatern Quintana Roo on the Yucatam pennisula (Benítez et al. 2019).


Typhlias pearsei is the top predator in the Mayan Blue Cenote system and probably fulfils the same position in other locations (Pohlman, Iliffe and Cifuentes 1997; Pohlman, Cifuentes and Iliffe 2000). At least four species of troglobitic shrimps, Typhlatya mitchelli, T. campecheae, T. pearsei (Crustacea, Decapoda, Atyidae) and Creaseria morleyi (Crustacea, Decapoda, Palaemonidae) inhabit the subterranean waters of Yucatan (Hobbs and Hobbs 1976, Holthuis 1977) and these may form part of the food supply of the cave fishes. Reddell (1981) records other aquatic fauna from this area.


The genus Typhlias Hubbs 1938 was long thought to be a primary junior homonym of Typhlias Bryce 1910 (Rotifera) and Whitey (1951) provided Typhliasina as a replacement name. Scharpf (2017) demostrated conclusively that Typhlias Bryce 1910 is not an available name and therefore cannot be a senior synonym of Typhlias Hubbs 1938. Therefore the species pearsei can retain it original name of Typhlias pearsei.  In a detailed study of the Ophidiiform fishes Cohen and Nielsen (1978, see also Nielsen, Cohen, Markle and Robins 1999) placed the species in Ogilbia Jordan and Evermann, 1898 but the species is so dictinctive as to retains its original generic name. Gibbs (1999) examined the lateral line morphology and cranial osteology of the Rubynose Brotula Cataetyx rubrirostris (Bythitidae) and suggested that they were very simlar to those of Typhlias pearsei as detailed in Schemmell (1977). Placed in the new Family Dinematichthyidae by Moller et al. (2016).

Conservation Status

MG [VU D2:2.3:1996]

Contreras-Balderas, S. and Almada-Villela, P. 1996. Typhliasina pearsei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1996: Downloaded on 10 July 2017.

E (IUCN, 1990), E (IUCN, 1993), The groundwater beneath Merida, one of the largest cities in Yucatan, is contaminated with bacteria from human effluent (Cruickshank, Maguirre, Kraemer and Craviota 1980) and it seems likely that this situation will pertain elsewhere on the peninsula. The same authors report the construction of disposal facilities intended to reduce the contamination. Whether these facilities can keep up with the human population growth remains to be seen. A more recent study of the water supply of Yucatan was made by Brenner, Medina Gonzalez and Zetina Moguel (1995). See also Proudlove, Medina Gonzalez, Chumba-Segura and Iliffe (2001). One known site for this species, Cenote del Pochote, has been destroyed by the building of a large pig farm (Horst Wilkens pers. comm.). Not only has this lead directly to loss of habitat, but there will lead to chronic problems with further faecal contamination of the aquifer. Endangered (Contreras-Balderas et al. 2003).

Museum Holdings

UMMZ 190412 82mm SL, UMMZ 211159 79mm SL (R. R. Miller pers. comm.)

Internet Resources

Typhlias pearsei in its natural environment

Key References

The paper by Angyal et al. (2020) contains a great deal of information on the invertebrate fauna of Cenotes in Yucatan. It has an extensive reference list that is highly relevant for any studies of the fishes. The references are not included in the subterranean fish bibliography but should be consulted by anyone following up the biology of Ophisternon infernale and/or Typhlias pearsei.

Creaser, E.P. Book Section 1936 Crustaceans from Yucatan
Hubbs, C.L. Book Section 1938 Fishes from the caves of Yucatan
Solorzano, A. Journal Article 1953 Nota ictiologia. Variacion de Typhliasina pearsei (Hubbs)
Van Mol, J.J. Journal Article 1967 Etude anatomique du genre Caecogilbia Poll et Leleup
Wilkens, H. Journal Article 1973 Uber das phylogenetische Alter von Hohlentieren. Untersuchungen uber die cavernicol Susswasserfauna Yukatans
Suarez, S.S. Journal Article 1975 The reproductive biology of Ogilbia cayorum, a viviparous brotulid fish
Hobbs, H.H. I.I I. and Hobbs, H H. Jr Journal Article 1976 On the troglobitic shrimps of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (Decapoda: Atyidae and Paleamonidae)
Reddell, J. R. Journal Article 1977 A preliminary survey of the caves of the Yucatan peninsula
Reddell, J. R. Journal Article 1977 Studies on the caves and cave fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula
Schemmel, C. Journal Article 1977 Zur Morphologie und Funktion der Sinnesorgane von Typhliasina pearsei (Hubbs) (Ophidioidea, Teleostei)
Hobbs, H.H. Jr., Hobbs, H.H. III and Daniel, M.A. Journal Article 1977 A review of the troglobitic decapod crustaceans of the Americas
Cohen, D. M. and Nielsen, J. G. Journal Article 1978 Guide to the identification of genera of the fish order Ophidiiformes with a tentative classification of the order
Peters, G. Journal Article 1978 Hohlenfisch (die blinden fische von Yucatan)
Wilkens, H. Journal Article 1979 Reductionsgrad und phylogenetisches Alter: Ein Beitrag zur Besiedlungsgeschichte der Limnofauna Yukatans
Reddell, J. R. Journal Article 1979 Zoogeography of the cave fauna of the Yucatan peninsula
Cruickshank, G. G., Maguirre, J., Kraemer, D. M. and Craviota, E. G. Book Section 1980 Bacterial contamination of the limestone aquifer beneath Merida, Mexico
Reddell, J. R. Book 1981 A review of the cavernicole fauna of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize
Wilkens, H. Journal Article 1982 Regressive evolution and phylogenetic age: the history of colonisation of freshwaters of Yucatan by fish and crustacea
Chumba-Segura, L. Journal Article 1983 Brotulidae: Typhliasina pearsei
Wilkens, H. Journal Article 1986 The tempo of regressive evolution: Studies of the eye reduction in stygobiont fishes and decapod crustaceans of the Gulf Coast and Western Atlantic region
Navarro-Mendoza, M Report 1988 Inventario ictio y estudios ecologicos preliminares en los cuerpos de agua continentales en la Reserva de la Biosfera de Sian Ka'an y areas circunvecinas en Quintana Roo, Mexico
Williams, J.E., Johnson, J.E., Hendrickson, D.A., Conteras-Balderas, S., Williams, J.D., Navarro-Mondoza, M., McAllister, D.E. and Deacon, J.E. Journal Article 1989 Fishes of North America endangered, threatened or of special concern 1989
Wilkens, H., Strecker, U. and Yager, J. Journal Article 1989 Eye reduction and phylogenetic age of ophidiiform cave fishes
Iliffe, T.M. Book Section 1992 An annotated list of the troglobitic anchialine and freshwater fauna od Quintana Roo
Iliffe, T. M. Book Section 1993 Fauna troglobia acuatica de la Peninsula de Yucatan
Scholz, T., Vargas-Vazquez, J. and Moravec, F. Journal Article 1996 Bothriocephalus pearsei n. sp. (Cestoda: Pseudophyllidea) from Cenote Fishes of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Pohlman, J.W., Iliffe, T M. and Cifuentes, L A. Journal Article 1997 A stable isotope study of organic cycling and the ecology of an anchialine cave ecosystem
Gibbs, MA Journal Article 1999 Lateral line morphology and cranial osteology of the Rubynose brotula, Cataetyx rubirostris
Nielsen, J. G., Cohen, D. M., Markle, D.F. and Robins, C. R. Journal Article 1999 Ophidiiform fishes of the world (Order Ophidiiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of pearlfishes, cusk-eels, brotulas and other ophidiiform fishes known to date
Moravec, F., Vargas-Vazquez, J. and Gonzalez-Solis, D. Journal Article 1999 Nematode parasites from the blind fish Ogilbia pearsei from the Nohoch system with remarks on Rhabdochona kidderi (Nematoda) from the fishes of Yucatan, Mexico
Proudlove, G.S., Medina Gonzalez, R., Chumba-Segura, L. and Iliffe, T. Journal Article 2001 Threatened fishes of the world: Ogilbia pearsei (Hubbs, 1938) (Bythitidae
Perry, E, Velazquez-Oliman, G and Marin, L Journal Article 2002 The hydrogeochemistry of the karst aquifer system of the northern Yucatan peninsula, Mexico
Schmitter-Soto J.J., Comin F.A., Escobar-Briones E., Herrera-Silveira J., Alcocer J., Suárez-Morales E., Elías-Gutiérrez M., Díaz-Arce V., Marín L.E. and Steinich Journal Article 2002 Hydrogeochemical and biological characteristics of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula (SE Mexico).
González, B.C., Worsaae, K. and Fontaneto, D. Journal Article 2002 Groundwater-flow modeling in the Yucatan karstic aquifer, Mexico
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
Beddows, PA Journal Article 2003 Cave hydrology of the Caribbean Yucatan coast
Moller, P.R., Schwarzhans, W. and Nielsen, J.G. Journal Article 2004 Review of the American Dinematichthyini (Teleostei: Bythitidae). Part 1. Dinematichthys, Gunterichthys, Typhliasina and two new genera
Hunter, RL, Webb, MS, Iliffe, TM and Alvarado Bremer, JR Journal Article 2008 Phylogeny and historical biogeography of the cave-adapted shrimp genus Typhlataya (Atyidae) in the Caribbean Sea and western Atlantic
Contreras-Balderas, S and others, 13 Journal Article 2008 Freshwater fishes and water status in México: A country-wide appraisal
Alvarez, F. and Iliffe, T.M. Book Section 2008 Fauna anquihalina de Yucatan
Botello, A. and Alvarez, F. Journal Article 2010 Genetic variation in the stygobitic shrimp Creaseria morleyi (Decapoda: Palaemonidae), evidence of bottlenecks and re-invasions in the Yucatan Peninsula
Soares, D. Conference Paper 2010 Cavefishes as models for sensory adaptation
Bauer-Gottwein, P., Gondwe, B.R.N. and Charver, G. Journal Article 2011 Review: the Yucatan Peninsula karst aquifer, Mexico
Botello, A., Iliffe, T.M., Alvarez, F., Juan, C., Pons, J. and Jaume, D. Journal Article 2012 Historical biogeography and phylogeny of Typhlatya cave shrimps (Decapoda:Atyidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear data
Von Rintelen, K. et al. Journal Article 2012 Drawn to the dark side: a molecular phylogeny of freshwater shrimps (Crustacea: Decapoda: Caridea: Atyidae) reveals frequent cave invasions and challenges current taxonomic hypotheses.
Havird, J.C. et al. Journal Article 2014 Taking their breath away: metabolic responses to low-oxygen levels in anchialine shrimps (Crustacea: Atyidae and Alpheidae)
Alvarez, F., Iliffe, T.M., Benitez, S., Brankovits, D. and Villalobos, J.L. Journal Article 2015 New records of anchialine fauna from the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Chavez-Solis, E.M. Thesis 2015 Aspectos ecológicos y etológicos de decápodos estigobios (Creaseria morleyi y Typhlatya spp.) En cenotes de Yucatán: utilización espacio- temporal, cambios anuales y relaciones interespecíficas
Moller, P.R., Knudsen, S.W., Schwarzhans, W. and Nielsen, J.G. Journal Article 2016 A new classification of viviparous brotulas (Bythitidae) – with family status for Dinematichthyidae – based on molecular, morphological and fossil data
Brankovits, D. et al. Journal Article 2017 Methane-and dissolved organic carbon-fueled microbial loop supports a tropical subterranean estuary ecosystem.
Scharpf, C Journal Article 2017 Typhliasina Whitley 1951, an unneeded repacement name for Typhlias Hubbs 1938 (Ophidiiformes: Dinematichthyidae)
Calderon-Gutierrez, F., Solis-Marin, F.A., Gomez, P., Sanchez, C., Hernandez-Alcantara, P., Alvarez-Noguera, F. and Yanez-Mendoza, G. Journal Article 2017 Mexican anchialine fauna - with emphasis in the high biodiversity cave El Aerolito
Jurado-Rivera, J.A. Journal Article 2017 Phylogenetic evidence that both ancient vicariance and dispersal have contributed to the biogeographic patterns of anchialine cave shrimps
Chávez-Solís, E.M., Mejía-Ortíz, L.M. and Simões, N. Journal Article 2018 Predatory behavior of the cave shrimp Creaseria morleyi (Creaser, 1936) (Caridea: Palaemonidae), the blind hunter of the Yucatán cenotes, Mexico
Cervantes-Martínez, A., Gutiérrez-Aguirre, M.A., Elías-Gutiérrez, M., Arce-Ibarra, A.M. and García-Morales, A. Journal Article 2018 Aquatic biodiversity in cenotes from the Yucatan
Calderón-Gutiérrez, F., Sánchez-Ortiz, C. A. and Huato-Soberanis, L. Journal Article 2018 Ecological patterns in anchialine caves
Alvarez, F. and Villalobos, J.L. Journal Article 2018 A new species of stygobitic freshwater crab of the genus Rodriguezia Bott, 1969 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Trichodactylidae) from Tabasco, Mexico
McNeill-Jewer, C.A., Reinhardt, E.G., Collins, S., Kovacs, S., Chan, W.M., Devos and LeMaillot, F.C. Journal Article 2019 The effect of seasonal rainfall on nutrient input and biological productivity in the Yax Chen cave system (Ox Bel Ha), Mexico, and implications for μXRF core studies of paleohydrology
Ditter, R.E., Erdman, R.B., Goebel, A.M. and Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Journal Article 2019 Widespread phenotypic hypervariation in the enigmatic anchialine shrimp Barbouria cubensis (Decapoda: Barbouriidae)
Ditter, R.E., Snyder, A.P., Schulman, S.E. and Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Journal Article 2019 Notes on the behavior and first records of three enigmatic anchialine shrimps (Decapoda: Caridea: Barbouriidae, Palaemonidae) in the Bahamas
Grego, J., Angyal, D. and Beltrán, L.A.L. Journal Article 2019 First record of subterranean freshwater gastropods (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Cochliopidae) from the cenotes of Yucatán state
Espinasa, L., Chávez Solís, E.M., Mascaró, M., Rosas, D., Simoes, N. and Violette, G. Journal Article 2019 A new locality and phylogeny of the stygobitic Typhlatya shrimps for the Yucatan Peninsula
Adams, R.E., Iliffe. T.M. and West, J.B. Journal Article 2019 Identifying tree roots in the caves of Quintana Roo, Mexico as a step toward ecological insights and improved conservation
Fragoso-Servón, P., Pereira-Corona, A. and Bautista, F. Journal Article 2019 The karst and its neighbors: Digital map of geomorphic environments in Quintana Roo, Mexico
Benítez, S., Iliffe, T.M., Quiroz-Martínez, B. and Alvarez, F. Journal Article 2019 How is the anchialine fauna distributed within a cave? A study of the Ox Bel Ha System, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Hendus, B., Medina-González, R., Sélem-Salas, C. and Vanschoenwinkel, B. Journal Article 2019 Explaining diversity patterns in dark waters – a study of aquatic caves in Yucatán, Mexico
Ditter, R.E., Mejía-Ortíz, L.M. and Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Journal Article 2020 Anchialine adjustments: an updated phylogeny and classification for the family Barbouriidae Christoffersen 1987 (Decapoda: Caridea)
Chávez‑Solís, E.M., Solís, C., Simões, N., and Mascaró, M. Journal Article 2020 Distribution patterns, carbon sources and niche partitioning in cave shrimps (Atyidae: Typhlatya)
Angyal, D., Chávez-Solís, E.M., Liévano-Beltrán, L.A., Magaña, B., Simoes, N. and Mascaró, M. Journal Article 2020 New distribution records of subterranean crustaceans from cenotes in Yucatan (Mexico)