Garra widdowsoni

(Trewavas 1955) Hamidan, Geiger and Freyhof 2014

Garra widdowsoni
Garra widdowsoni. Photograph by Jorg Freyhof


Typhlogarra widdowsoni  Trewavas 1955




Holotype ("Type" in Trewavas, 1955): BMNH 1953.12.31:1 47.5mm SL.  Paratype: BMNH 1953.12.31:2 43mm SL. This species is the type-species by original designation and monotypy of the cave-restricted genus Typhlogarra.


Type locality: Sheik Hadid Shrine sinkhole, near to the Sheik Hadid Shrine, 500m west of the Euphrates on the northern outskirts of the town of Haditha (N 34°10’57.71” E 42°22’11.80”), Iraq.

Also known from: Haqlaniya valley sinkhole (N 34° 5’28.32” E 42°21’56.30”). Locals people reported that there had been once seven additional places but the exacty location these is not known.

Above information from Al-Sheikhly and Freyhof (2013).

The only other known collection site is the Pigeon Hole, 12 km south of the type locality. A cave dwelling fish was collected from this site around 1950 (Widdowson 1954) but was lost and not identified. A specimen in the BMNH (BMNH 1960.3.1:31) is recorded from this site thus confirming the presence of the species.

The two sites in Haditha are also the type locality of Caecocypris basimi and the two species coexist.

In a study of intra-populational variation Niazi (1965) was only able to obtain specimens from the type locality.


Nothing known. The collection locality is simply a small window into the local phreas.


Post (1965) reported that the haploid chromosome number (n) for this species is 24. This appears to be the plesiomorphic state for many teleosts. Niazi (1965) examined 69 specimens (juvenile to adult, 12.0mm - 47.5mm SL) and showed that there is a degree of intra-populational variation within the species. This species belongs to a monophyletic group termed 'labeine cyprinids' by Reid (1978, 1982), where it is joined by other cave-dwelling species, (Garra longipinnis, Garra typhlops, Garra anduzzii, Garra dunsirei, Garra lorestanensis and Garra tashanensisHowes (1991) accepts this placement, calling it the labeine lineage which is member of the subfamily Cyprininae.

Zamani-Faradonbe et al. (2021), using COI markers, found that G. widdowsoni is sister to a groupd containing G. mondica, G. amirhosseini, G. elegans and their newly described G. hormuxensis.

Conservation Status

[CR B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv:3.1:2014]

Freyhof, J. 2014. Typhlogarra widdowsoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: RLTS.T22601A19006932.en. Downloaded on 03 July 2017. R (IUCN 1990), R (IUCN 1994), VU D2 (IUCN 1996).

Al-Sheikhly and Freyhof (2013) conducted a survey of the Haditha sites in 2012, the first comprehensive survey for 30 years. They found that the Haqlaniya valley sinkhole was dry with no fishes to be found. Only the Sheik Hadid Shrine sinkhole was with water and even this was severely impacted by water-level reduction. Only Garra widdowsoni was seen and there have been no sitings of Caecocycpris basimi for several years. Both species certainly merit CR and C. basimi may well be EX.

Museum Holdings

As above plus: BMNH 1955.11.23:1-2, 1960.3.1:31, 1979.9.4:7-13 (13 alizarin preparation), 1979.9.4:35-36, 1981.9.21:36-47.

Internet Resources

Garra widdowsoni COI (1) (Hamidan et al. 2014)

Garra widdowsoni COI (2) (Hamidan et al. 2014)

Key References

Widdowson, A. G. Journal Article 1954 Explorers of subterranean by-ways
Trewavas, E. Journal Article 1955 A blind fish from Iraq, related to Garra
Marshall, N.B. and Thines, G. Journal Article 1958 Studies of the brain, sense organs and light sensitivity of a blind cave fish (Typhlogarra widdowsoni) from Iraq
Olivereau, M. Journal Article 1960 Quelques aspects anatomiques et physiologiques de la glande thyroide des poissons
Olivereau, M. Journal Article 1960 Hyperplasie thyroidienne et présence de follicules thyroidiens intra-rénaux, chez un exemplaire de Typhlogarra widdowsoni Trewavas, poisson aveugle et cavernicole de l'Irak
Niazi, A. D. Journal Article 1965 Intrapopulational variation within Typhlogarra widdowsoni Trewavas (Cyprinidae) with some observations on their behaviour
Peters, N. and Peters, G. Journal Article 1965 Die degneration der augen von Typhlogarra widdowsoni (Cyprinidae, Pisces)
Post, A. Journal Article 1965 Vergleichende Untersuchungen der chromosomen-zahlen bei susswasser-Teleosteen
Reid, G. McG. Thesis 1978 A sytematic study of labeine cyprinid fishes with particular reference to the comparative morphology, functional morphology and morphometrics of African Labeo species
Banister, K.E. and Bunni, M.K. Journal Article 1980 A new blind cyprinid fish from Iraq
Reid, G. McG. Journal Article 1982 The form, function and phylogenetic significance of the vomero-palatine organ in Cyprinid fishes
Whitear, M. and Mittal, A.K. Journal Article 1983 Fine structure of the club cells in the skin of Ostariophysan fishes
Sandford, M. Journal Article 1983 Ervaringen met enkele minder bekende holenvissen
Howes, G. J. Book Section 1991 Systematics and biogeography: an overview
Juberthie, C. and Decu, V. Book Section 2001 Irak
Al-Sheikhly, O.F. and Freyhof, J. Journal Article 2013 Iraqi endemic cave fish on the very edge: Typhlogarra widdowsoni and Caecocypris basimi
Behrens-Chapuis, S., Herder, F., Esmaeili, H.R., Freyhof, J., Hamidan, M.A., Ozulug, M., Sanda, R. and Geiger, M.F. Journal Article 2015 Adding nuclear rhodopsin data where mitochondrial COI indicated discrepancies - can this marker help to explain conflicts in cyprinids?
Sayyadzadeh, G., Esmaeili, H.R. and Freyhof, J. Journal Article 2015 Garra mondica, a new species from the Mond River drainage with remarks on the genus Garra from the Persian Gulf basin in Iran
Bagheri, M., Goudarzi, F., Zalaghi, A.H. and Savabieasfahani, M. Journal Article 2016 Habitat characteristics and population size of Iranocypris typhlops, the Iran cave barb
Esmaeili, H.R., Sayyadzadeh, G., Coad, B.W. and Eagderi, S. Journal Article 2016 Review of the genus Garra Hamilton, 1822 in Iran with description of a new species: a morpho-molecular approach (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Nebeshwar, K and Vishwanath, W Journal Article 2017 On the snout and oromandibular morphology of genus Garra, description of two new species from the Koladyne River basin in Mizoram, India, and redescription of G. manipurensis (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Malek-Hosseini, M.J. and Zamani, A. Journal Article 2017 A checklist of subterranean arthropods of Iran
Esmaeili, H.R., Mehraban, H., Abbasi, K., Keivany, Y. and Coad, B. Journal Article 2017 Review and updated checklist of freshwater fishes of Iran: Taxonomy, distribution and conservation status
Saemi-Komsari, M., Mousavi-Sabet, H., Sattari, M., Eagderi, S., Vatandoust, S. and Doadrio, I. Journal Article 2020 Descriptive osteology of Garra rossica (Nikolskii 1900)
Freyhof, J., Kaya, C. and Ali, A. Book Section 2021 A critical checklist of the inland fishes native to the Euphrates and Tigris drainages
Zamani-Faradonbe, M., Keivany, Y., Dorafshan, S. and Zhang, E. Journal Article 2021 Two new species of Garra (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from western Iran
Zamani-Faradonbe M. and Keivany Y. Journal Article 2021 Biodiversity and distribution of Garra species (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) in Iran
Zamani-Faradonbe, M. and Keivany, Y. Journal Article 2021 Comparative osteology of two Garra species (Cypriniformes, Cyprinidae) from Hormuz and Sistan basins of Iran
Zamani-Faradonbe, M., Zhang, E. and Keivany, Y. Journal Article 2021 Garra hormuzensis, a new species from the upper Kol River drainage in the Persian Gulf basin (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Ciçek, E., Jawad, L., Eagderi, S., Esmaeili, H.R., Mouludi-saleh, A., Sungur, S. and Fricke, R. Journal Article 2023 Freshwater fishes of Iraq: a revised and updated annotated checklist—2023