Typhlosynbranchus luticolus

(Britz, Doherty-Bone, Kouete, Sykes and Gower 2016) Britz, Dahanukar, Standing, Philip, Kumar and Raghavan 2020

Typhlosynbranchus luticolus
Typhlosynbranchus luticolus. Photograph by Thomas M. Doherty-Bone and courtsey Ralf Britz


Monopterus luticolus  Britz, Doherty-Bone, Kouete, Sykes and Gower 2016




Holotype: BMNH 2016.7.6.1, 209 mm TL (incomplete, tail damaged). Paratypes: BMNH 2016.7.6.2, 167 mm TL (incomplete tail damaged), BMNH 2016.7.6.3, 158 mm TL, BMNH 2016.7.6.4-5, 164-203 mm,  BMNH 2016.7.6.6, head missing but rest 115 mm, ZMUC P 9415, 120 mm TL.


Dug up from sandy soil in farmland with banana and cocoyam crops and tree ferns and palm treesCameroon: Mundame, along river Mungo, near Kumba (4°33' N 9°31' E).


The original description (Britz et al. 2016) has the following description: "All of the 2009, 2010 and 2013 specimens of M. luticolus were encountered during attempts to collect caecilian amphibians. They were dug from moist to wet soil (~ 0.3 m), usually inundated by the neighbouring water body. All these sites were immediately adjacent to both lotic and lentic aquatic habitats

Traditionally subterranean biologists have not considered the soil fauna as part of the subterranean realm and they have not studied it. However there are a number of similarities of habitat, especially darkness but also confined space analagous to interstitial habitats, and of evolutionary trajectories such as reduction in eyes and pigment and in body size (Culver and Pipan 2014:128-141). This species and Monopterus rongsaw are the only known soil dwelling fishes but there are 35 known species which inhabit the interstitial subterranean environment which is in many ways analagous. Both are shallow, dark and space limited (Culver and Pipan 2014:106-127) and if the two Monopterus species are compared morphologicall to the most exteme interstitial species many similarities can be noted. [See also Culver and Pipan (2008) and Pipan and Culver (2012) for discussions of shallow (or superficial) subterranean habiitats, SSHs].


A member of the 'Amphipnous group' of Monopterus.

Conservation Status


Museum Holdings

As above only.

Key References

Rosen, D. E. and Greenwood, P. H. Journal Article 1976 A fourth neotropical species of synbranchid eel and the phylogeny and systematics of synbranchiform fishes
Culver, D.C. and Pipan, T. Journal Article 2008 Superficial subterranean habitats - gateway to the subterranean realm?
Britz, R., Lalremsanga, H.T., Lalrotluanga and Lalramliana Journal Article 2011 Monopterus ichthyophoides, a new species of scaled swamp eel (Teleostei: Synbranchiformes: Synbranchidae) from Mizoram, India
Pipan, T. and Culver, D.C. Book Section 2012 Shallow subterranean habitats
Culver, D.C. and Pipan, T Book 2014 Shallow subterranean habitats: Ecology, evolution and conservation
Britz, R., Doherty-Bone, T.M., Kouete, M.T., Sykes, D. and Gower, D.J. Journal Article 2016 Monopterus luticolus, a new species of swamp eel from Cameroon (Teleostei: Synbranchidae)
Britz, R., Sykes, D., Gower, D.J. & Kamei, R.G. Journal Article 2018 Monopterus rongsaw, a new species of hypogean swamp eel from the Khasi Hills in Northeast India (Teleostei: Synbranchiformes: Synbranchidae).
Britz, R., Dahanukar, N., Standing, A., Philip, S., Kumar, B. amd Raghavan, R. Journal Article 2020 Osteology of ‘Monopterus’ roseni with the description of Rakthamichthys, new genus, and comments on the generic assignment of the Amphipnous Group species (Teleostei: Synbranchiformes).
Britz, R., Sudasinghe, H., Sykes, D. and Tharindu Ranasinghe, R.H. Journal Article 2020 Ophichthys desilvai, a poorly known synbranchid eel from Sri Lanka (Teleostei: Synbranchidae)