Typhleotris mararybe

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Typhleotris mararybe
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Eleotridae
Genus: Typhleotris
Species: T. mararybe
Binomial name
Typhleotris mararybe
Sparks & Chakrabarty, 2012

Typhleotris mararybe is a species of fish in the family Eleotridae, the sleeper gobies. It is a troglobitic species endemic to cave habitat in southwestern Madagascar. It is unique among known cave-dwelling fish in that is both blind and darkly pigmented.[1] It has well-developed nonvisual sensory systems and dives to avoid approaching objects. The fish was first collected in 2008 and was described to science as a new species in 2012.[1]


T. mararybe is about 38 mm (1.5 in) long. The body is uniformly dark brown in color, and the fins are mostly white with brown bases. Its sensory systems include a series of pores on its head, but it lacks eyes.[2]

The fish is relatively slow-moving, but more responsive to approaching objects than the closely related T. madagascariensis, diving to avoid them.[2] It can be distinguished from other members of genus Typhleotris by its dark pigmentation and aspects of its bone structure.[1] T. mararybe is possibly the sister species of T. madagascariensis, as the two share characteristics in common that T. pauliani, the only other member of the genus, does not.[2] T. mararybe may have evolved from an ancestral species that lacked pigmentation and was blind, but that pigmentation was regained for camouflage in parts of the cave that receive sunlight.[2]


Typhleotris mararybe is one of four cave-dwelling fishes in Madagascar. It was initially known from only a single cave, a karst sinkhole called the Grotte de Vitane near Itampolo, where two specimens were collected,[2] but has later been discovered to occur in four additional sinkholes/caves in the region.[3] The species is probably endangered, but it has not been classified by the IUCN.[2] It is overall less widespread and common than T. madagascariensis, which also occurs in the five caves/sinkholes inhabited by T. mararybe.[3] Despite this, direct competition between the two species is not known.[3]

Taxonomic evaluation[edit]

T. mararybe was described from the two specimens, the holotype and the paratype, in 2012. It was published in American Museum Novitates, a journal of the American Museum of Natural History.[1] Locals sometimes enter the Grotte de Vitane cave where it was first discovered, but were unaware of the species.[2]

The specific name was derived from the Malagasy words marary (ill or sick), and be (big), combined to mean "very sick" or "big sickness". It commemorates an unknown severe illness suffered by members of the field team after their snorkeling expedition to survey the sinkhole.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sparks, J. S. and P. Chakrabarty. (2012). Revision of the endemic Malagasy cavefish genus Typhleotris (Teleostei: Gobiiformes: Milyeringidae), with discussion of its phylogenetic placement and description of a new species. American Museum Novitates 3764, 1-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wheeler, Q. (August 3, 2013). "New to nature no 111: Typhleotris mararybe". The Guardian. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Rasoloariniaina; Ganzhorn; Riemann; and Raminosoa (2016). "Water quality and biotic interaction of two cavefish species: Typhleotris madagascariensis Petit, 1933 and Typhleotris mararybe Sparks & Chakrabarty, 2012, in the Mahafaly Plateau groundwater system, Madagascar". Subterranean Biology. 18: 1–16. doi:10.3897/subtbiol.18.8321.