Typhleotris madagascariensis

Petit 1933

Typhleotris madagascariensis
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Arnoult (1959)


Historical notes

This species was discovered in about 1930 but the date is not known for sure. The collecters were Henry Perrier de Bathie and Mr (unknown) Ursch. The latter being controler of the Eaux et Forets. The species was decribed by Georges Petit. (Information from Berti and Messana 2010). The name is derived from typhlos, blind, a perceived relationship to the genus Eleotris, and the place it was found.






Lectotype: MNHN 1933‑60, 43mm SL (assigned from syntype series by Bauchot, Desoutter, Hoese and Larson 1991:17). The original description was based on a syntype series of seven specimens but only this one is now available at MNHN. Mauge (1986a:398) incorrectly states that this specimen is the holotype. This species is the type species by monotypy of the cave‑restricted genus Typhleotris.


Type locality: L'Aven de Mitoho, Mahafaly, southwest Madagascar (24.0477oS, 43.7533oE).

Recorded from: Vences, Rasoloariniaina and Riemann (2018)


Location Lat/Long Area Coexists with
Andranoilovy -24.0459, 43.7540 C  
Andriamaniloky -24.0544, 43.7619 C T. pauliani
Mitoho -24.0477, 43.7533 C  
Vitany Nord ca. -24.02, 43.75 C T. pauliani
Anjamanohatsy 24.5759, 43.9666 S  
Lalia -24.5808, 43.9969 S T. pauliani, T. mararybe
Ranofotsy -24.5953, 43.9656 S  
Tehafe -24.5879, 43.9646 S T. pauliani, T. mararybe


At Lalia one specimen may have been a hybrid between T. madagascarienisis and T. pauliani.

At Tehafe one specimen may have been a hybrid between T. madagascarienisis and T. pauliani.


Very little information is available. This species and its congeners, T. pauliani and T. mararybe appear to live in vadose caves.


Vences, Rasoloariniaina and Reimann (2018) obtained tissue samples from 122 individuals of the three Typhleotris species (T. madagascariensis, T. pauliani and T. mararybe). These were analysed to get DNA sequences fron one mitochondrial gene (cox1) and two nuclear genes (kiaa1239 and rag-1). cox 1 sequences were obtained from 118 individuals from 11 localities, rag-1 from 19 individuals from 6 localities and kiaa1239 from 85 individuals from 12 localities. The cox1 marker showed a clear separation of the thee nominal taxa but with some suggestion of hybridization between T. pauliani and T. madagascariensis and between T. pauliani and T. mararybe. All individuals of T. mararybe belong to one clade but both of the other species are divided into two clearly separate clades. Three geographic groupings were revealed. The northern group consisted only of one clade of T. pauliani at Safora, conderably separate from the central and southern groups. All T. maraybe sampled were in the southern group together with one clade of T. madagascariensis and the central group consisted only of the second clade of T. magagascariensis. The second clade of T. pauliani is found in both central and southern groups.

Chakrabarty, Davis and Sparks (2012) demonstrated that the three Madagascar species of Typhleotris are the sister group to the two Australian species of Milyeringa. They placed all five known species in the family Milyeringidae Whitley 1945. This action was fully supported by a multiple molecular marker study by Page et al. (2018).

Kuang et al. (2018) used molecular markers to study the internal structure of the Suborder Gobioidei which contains within it eleven Families. They demonstrated that Milyeringidae is sister Family to a group of four  Families: Oxudercidae+Gobiidae+Butidae+ Eleotridae and is only disttantly related to four others: Odontobutidae, Rhyacichthyidae, Apogonidae and Kurtidae (samples from Thalasseleotridae and Trichonotidae were not availabe for analysis).

Numerous pieces of evidence, collected during a comprehensive phylogenetic study of the suborder Gobioidei (Gobiiformes: Gobiidae) (Gielr et al 2022), conclusively showed that the Family Milyeringidae is monophyletic.

Conservation Status

MuG [EN B1ab(iii):3.1:2016]

(FishBase team RMCA & Sparks, J.S. 2016. Typhleotris madagascariensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: Downloaded on 06 July 2017). VU D2 (IUCN, 1996, 2000), “fragile et vulnerable” (Kiener 1972). This species is endemic to southwestern Madagascar and occurs throughout the southern portion of the Mahafaly Plateau, south of the Onilahy River. It has a restricted range and a patchy distribution, given it only occurs in subterranean habitats and isolated locations such as caves, sinkholes and wells. For this species, the estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) is 300 km2. It is also only found at two locations and the habitat is declining. On this basis this species is assessed as Endangered. However, if further research finds these caves to hold numerous species with allopatric distributions in the region (e.g. the population near Toliara) then the assessment may need to be raised to Critically Endangered as the distribution range for each species will be lower than originally thought. Taxonomic work is required before such an assessment can be made.

This species is found in Ecoregion 87 (Madagascar southern basins) of Thieme et al. (2005). This is a xeric area which is regionally outstanding faunistically, with a conservation status of relatively stable and a priority class of 5 (Sparks 2005).

Museum Holdings

MNHN 1949-12, 2 specimens (Hoese and Gill 1993).

AMNH 245603 (1); AMNH 245604 (1); AMNH 245605 (1); AMNH 245606 (1); AMNH 245607 (1); AMNH 245608 (1); AMNH 245609 (1); AMNH 245610 (2); AMNH 245611 (1); AMNH 245687 (1); AMNH 245688 (1); BMNH 1981.11.9.21-22 (2); MNHN 1963-0174 (2); MNHN 1966-1097 (6); MNHN 1968-0167 (2) (Fricke et al. 2018).

Internet Resources

Zoobank details

A short film

Prosanta Chakrabarty film

Key References

Petit, G. Journal Article 1933 Un poisson cavernicole aveugle des eaux douces de Madagascar:Typhleotris madagascariensis gen. et. sp. nov
Petit, G. Journal Article 1935 Poissons. In: Contribution a l'etude faunistique de la reserve naturelle du Manumpetsa (Madagascar)
Petit, G. Journal Article 1938 Sur Typhleotris madagascariensis
Petit, G. Journal Article 1941 Sur la morphologie cranienne de deux Poissons cavernicoles aveugle
Poisson, H. and Bessairie, H. Journal Article 1947 Note sur une nouvelle station d'un poisson cavernicole aveugle du plateau calcaire de Mahafaly
Angel, F. Journal Article 1949 Contribution a l'etude du Typhleotris madagascariensis, poisson aveugle cavernicole de Madagascar
Arnoult, J. Journal Article 1959 Une nouvelle espece de poisson aveugle de Madagascar: Typhleotris pauliani n. sp
Arnoult, J. Journal Article 1959 Poissons des eaux douces. Faune de Madagascar
Kiener, A. Journal Article 1963 Poissons, peche et pisciculture a Madagascar
Kiener, A. Journal Article 1972 Poissons Malagasy menaces de disparition: ecologie, biologie, et protection de ces especes
Mauge, A. L. Book Section 1986 Typhleotris madagascariensis Petit, 1933
Reinthal, P.N. and Stiassny, M.L.J. Journal Article 1990 The freshwater fishes of Madagascar: A study of an endangered fauna with recommendations for a conservation strategy
Bauchot, M.L., Desoutter, M., Hoese, D.F. and Larson, H.K. Journal Article 1991 Catalogue critique des types de poissons du Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, sous ordre des Gobioidei
Hoese, D.F. and Gill, A.C. Journal Article 1993 Phylogenetic relationships of eleotridid fishes (Perciformes, Gobioidei)
Stiassny, M. L. J. and Raminosoa, N. Book Section 1994 The fishes of the inland waters of Madagascar
Juberthie, C. and Decu, V. Book Section 2001 Madagascar
Guyot, L. Thesis 2002 Reconnaissance hydrogéologique pour l’alimentation en eau d’une plaine littorale en milieu semi-aride: Sud-Ouest de Madagascar
Benstead, J.P., DeRham, P.H., Gattolliat, J.-L., Gibbon, F.M., Loiselle, P.V., Sartori, M., Sparks, J.S. and Stiassny, M.L.J. Journal Article 2003 Conserving Madagascar's freshwater biodiversity.
Sparks, J Book Section 2003 Eleotridae: Typhleotris, Toho
Sparks, J and Stiassny, MLJ Book Section 2003 Introduction to the freshwater fishes
Sparks, J. Book Section 2005 Ecoregion 68. Madagascar western basins
Sparks, J. Book Section 2005 Ecoregion 87. Madagascar southern basins
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
Wilmé, L., Goodman, S.M. & Ganzhorn, J.U. Book 2006 Biogeographic evolution of Madagascar's microendemic biota
Bambini, L., Kofoky, A., Mbohoahy, T., Ralisata, M., Manjoazy, T., Hosken, D.J. and Jenkins, R.K. Journal Article 2010 Do bats need trees? Habitat use of two Malagasy hipposiderid bats Triaenops furculus and T. menamena in the dry southwest
Chakrabarty, P. Journal Article 2010 Status and phylogeny of Milyerigidae (Teleostei:Gobiiformes), with the description of a new blind cave-fish from Australia, Milyeringa brooksi, n. sp.
Chakrabarty, P., Davis, M.P. and Sparks, J.S. Journal Article 2012 The first record of a trans-oceanic sister-group relationship between obligate vertebrate troglobites
Sparks, J.S. and Chakrabarty, P. Journal Article 2012 Revision of the endemic Malagasy cavefish genus Typhleotris (Teleostei: Gobiiformes: Milyeringidae) with discussion of its phylogenetic placement and description of a new species
Chakrabarty, P. Web Page 2012 The death Goby and her kin
Samonds K.E., Godfrey L.R., Ali J.R., Goodman S.M., Vences M., Sutherland, M.R. Irwin, M.T. and Krause, D.W. Journal Article 2013 Imperfect isolation: Factors and filters shaping Madagascar’s extant vertebrate fauna
Tornabene, L., Chen, Y.G. and Pezold, F. Journal Article 2013 Gobies are deeply divided: phylogenetic evidence from nuclear DNA (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae)
Dworak, L., Rasoloariniaina, J.R., Raminosoa, N. and Englert, A. Book Section 2015 Hydrogéologie dans le sud-ouest de Madagascar.
Rasoloariniaina, J.R., Ganzhorn, J.U., Riemann, J.C. and Raminosoa, N. Journal Article 2016 Water quality and biotic interaction of two cavefish species: Typhleotris madagascariensis Petit, 1933 and Typhleotris maraybe Sparks and Chakrabarty, 2012, in the Mahafaly Plateau groundwater syste, Madagascar
Laumanns, M. Journal Article 2017 Atlas of the great caves and the karst of Africa. Part 1. Introduction and Algeria to Madagascar
Vences, M., Rasoloariniaina, J.R. and Riemann, J.C. Journal Article 2018 A preliminary assessment of genetic divergence and distribution of Malagasy cave fish in the genus Typhleotris (Teleostei: Milyeringidae)
Fricke, R.,Mahafina, J.J., Behivoke, F., Jaonalison, H. Leopold, M. and Ponton, D. Journal Article 2018 Annotated checklist of the fishes of Madagascar, southwestern Indian Ocean, with 158 new records
Kuang, T., Tornabene, L., Lia, J., Jiang, J., Chakrabarty, P., Sparks, J.S., Naylor, G.J.P. and Lia, C. Journal Article 2018 Phylogenomic analysis on the exceptionally diverse fish clade Gobioidei (Actinopterygii: Gobiiformes) and data-filtering based on molecular clocklikeness
Gierl, C., Dohrmann, M., Keith, P., Humphreys, W.J., Esmaeili, H.R., Vukić, J., Radek, S. and ReichenbacherI, B. Journal Article 2022 An integrative phylogenetic approach for inferring relationships of fossil gobioids (Teleostei: Gobiiformes)
Sparks, J.S. and Chakrabarty, P. Book Section 2022 Milyeringidae: Typhleotris
Thacker, C.E., McCraney, W.T., Harrington, R.C., Near, T.J., Shelley, J.J., Adams, M., Hammer, M.P. and Unmack, P.J. Journal Article 2023 Diversification of the sleepers (Gobiiformes: Gobioidei: Eleotridae) and evolution of the root gobioid families