Sunder Lal Hora

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Dr Sunder Lal Hora FRSE FLS (2 May 1896 – 8 December 1955) was an Indian ichthyologist and was known for his biogeographical theory on the affinities of Western Ghats and Indo-Malayan forms. He was the second Indian director of the Zoological Survey of India, succeeding Baini Prashad.


Hora was born at Hafizabad in the Punjab (modern day Pakistan) on 2 May 1896. He schooled in Jullunder before college at Lahore. He met Thomas Nelson Annandale who visited his college in Lahore in 1919 and was invited to the Zoological Survey of India. In 1921 he became in-charge of ichthyology and herpetology and in 1947 became Superintendent of the Z.S.I. and then Director after Baini Prashad moved to become an advisor to the government.[1]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1929. His proposers were James Hartley Ashworth, John Stephenson, Charles Henry O'Donoghue and James Ritchie.[2]

He died on 8 December 1955.[3][4]


The Satpura hypothesis, a zoo-geographical hypothesis proposed by him that suggests that the central Indian Satpura Range of hills acted as a bridge for the gradual migrations of Malayan fauna into the peninsula and the Western Ghats of India. He supported the theory on the basis of torrential fishes which had special suckers to hold onto rocks. Later research however pointed out that his examples made use of unrelated species showing common characters that were independently evolved, that is they were examples of convergent evolution.[5][6]

Hora was also among the Indian pioneers of fish and wildlife conservation and pointed out the effect of dams on the migrations of riverine fishes and noted the poor design of fish ladders in Indian dams.[7]

A genus of ricefish, Horaichthys ("Hora's Fish"), was created in his honour and placed as a sole member of the family Horaichthyidae. The species is now placed in the genus Oryzias and the family is no longer considered valid.


  1. ^ Roonwal, M.L. (1956). "The Late Dr Sunder Lal Hora (1896-1955): an appreciation, together with a complete list of his scientific writings" (PDF). Records of the Indian Museum. 54 (3–4): 107–137.
  2. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
  3. ^ Silas, E.G. (1956). "Sunder Lal Hora" (PDF). Copeia (2): 134–136. JSTOR 1440452.
  4. ^ Roonwal, M.L. "Sunder Lal Hora (1899-1955)" (PDF). Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy. 22 (6): 287–303. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014.
  5. ^ Karanth, Praveen (2003). "Evolution of disjunct distributions among wet-zone species of the Indian subcontinent: Testing various hypotheses using a phylogenetic approach" (PDF). Current Science. 85 (9): 1276–1282.
  6. ^ Hora, Sunder Lal (1949). "Satpura hypothesis of the distribution of the Malayan fauna and flora to peninsular India" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Institute of Sciences of India. 15B: 309–314. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ Hora, S.L. (1940). "Dams and the problems of migratory fishes" (PDF). Current Science. 9 (9): 406–407.


  • Hora, S. L. 1944. On the Malayan affinities of the freshwater fish fauna of Peninsular India, and its bearing on the probable age of the Garo-Rajmahal Gap. Proc. Natl. Inst. Sci. India, 10(2):423–439.
  • Hora, S. L. 1949. Satpura Hypothesis of the Distribution of the Malayan Fauna and Flora to Peninsular India. Proc. Natl. Inst. Sci. India, 15(8):309–314.