Typhleotris pauliani

Arnoult 1959

Typhleotris pauliani
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Arnoult (1959)


Historical notes

The first specimens were collected in July 1956 by Renaud Paulian, Director of the Institut de Recherche Scientifique de Madagascar, in caves near the Baie des Assasins, between the towns of Morombe and Toliara (formerly Tulear), southwest Madagascar. The species was described three years later by Jaques Arnoult of the zoological laboratory of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris. The name is derived from the collector. (Information from Berti and Messana 2010).






Holotype: MNHN 1960‑258, 52mm SL. Paratypes MNHN 1960‑259, 6 specimens, 39-49mm SL.


Type locality: Grotte d'Andranomaly (also known as Grotte d'Andalambezo), north of the Onilahy River, southwest Madagascar (21o50’S, 43o30’E).

Also recorded from: Vences, Rasoloariniaina and Reimann (2018)


Location Lat/Long Area Coexists with
Safora -22.3217, 43.3231 N  
Andriamaniloky -24.0544, 43.7619 C T. madagascariensis
Vitany Nord ca. -24.02, 43.75 C T. madagascariensis
Lalia -24.5808, 43.9969 S T. madagascariensis, T. mararybe
Nikotsy -24.6384, 43.9491 S  
Tehafe -24.5879, 43.9646 S T. madagascariensis, 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.

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


Very little information is available. This species and its congeners, T. madagascariensis 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).

Conservation Status

TLO, MuG [CR B1ab(iii):3.1:2016]

(FishBase team RMCA & Sparks, J.S. 2016. Typhleotris pauliani. 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 coastal Madagascar and occurs in the vicinity of Andalambezo. It has a restricted range and a patchy distribution, given it only occurs in subterranean habitats and interconnected sites such as caves, sinkholes and wells. For this species, the estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) is approximately 100 km². It is in a single location threatened by increasing tourist visitation and collection of guano. On this basis this species is assessed as Critically Endangered.

This species is found in Ecoregion 87 (Madagascar southern basins) and Ecoregion 68 (Madagascar western basins) of Thieme et al. (2005). These are respectively xeric and savanna-dry forest regions. Er87 is regionally outstanding with a conservation status of relatively stable and a priority class of 5 (Sarks 2005). Er68 is continentally outstanding, with a conservation status of vulnerable and a priority class of 2 (Sparks 2005)

Museum Holdings

AMNH 245646 (1); AMNH 245647 (1); AMNH 245648 (1); AMNH 245649 (1); AMNH 245650 (1); AMNH 245651 (2); AMNH 245652 (1); AMNH 245653 (1); AMNH 245654 (1); AMNH 245655 (1); AMNH 245656 (1); AMNH 245657 (1); AMNH 245658 (1); AMNH 245659 (1); AMNH 245660 (1); AMNH 245661 (1); AMNH 245662 (1); AMNH 245663 (1); AMNH 245664 (1); AMNH 245665 (1); AMNH 245666 (1); AMNH 245667 (1); AMNH 245668 (1); AMNH 245669 (1); AMNH 245670 (1); AMNH 245671 (1); BMNH 1981.1.9.19-20 (2); MNHN 1960-0259 (6 paratypes); MNHN 1968-0168 (2) (Fricke et al. 2018).

Internet Resources

Zoobank details

Prosanta Chakrabarty film

Key References

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 pauliani Arnoult, 1959
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
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
Sparks, J. Book Section 2005 Ecoregion 68. Madagascar western basins
Sparks, J. Book Section 2005 Ecoregion 87. Madagascar southern basins
Wilmé, L., Goodman, S.M. & Ganzhorn, J.U. Book 2006 Biogeographic evolution of Madagascar's microendemic biota
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.
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., 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
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
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
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
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