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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Class Malacostraca
Order Mysidacea
Family Stygiomysidae

Stygiomysis clarkei Bowman, Iliffe, & Yager, 1984

Taxonomic Characterization:
The genus Stygiomysis includes blind, troglobitic mysidaceans characterized by a rather vermiform bodies, a reduced carapace, endopods of thoracopods 2-4 ( = pereopods 1-3) prehensile, and protopod of uropod produced into a long distomedial process (Bowman, Iliffe, and Yager, 1984). S. clarkei can be distinguished from other Stygiomysis by the following characteristics:

  • The telson is wider than long.
  • The rami of the uropods are shorter in relation to their length.
  • The ratios of widths to lengths of the endopod (2.0) and exopod (1.7) are smaller than other species, but the same as Pesce's Stygiomysis sp. (Bowman, Iliffe, and Yager, 1984).
  • The scale on antennae 2 is oval in shape.
  • The telson has three short spines on either side of the central group of three spines.

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: Females are 4.8-6.2 mm long.

Number of Species in Genus: Six described species, all anchialine stygobitic

Genus Range:

  • Anguilla: S. holthuisi (Gordon, 1958)
      • Salt Well and the Fountain, reported in Botosaneanu, 1980
  • Bahamas:
      • Lucayan Caverns, reported Bowman, Iliffe, and Yager, 1984
  • Caicos Islands:
    • Middle Caicos Island: S. clarkei Bowman, Iliffe, & Yager, 1984
      • Conch Bar Cave, reported in Bowman, Iliffe, and Yager, 1984
    • Providenciales Island: S. clarkei Bowman, Iliffe, & Yager, 1984
      • Snake Cave, reported in Bowman, Iliffe, and Yager, 1984
  • Dominican Republic: S. aemete Wagner 1992
      • Well about 5 km east of the Haitian border in the Pedernales Province
  • Southern Italy: S. hydruntina Caroli, 1937
      • Buco dei Diavoli, L'Abisso, reported in Caroli, 1937
  • Jamaica: S. major Bowman, 1976
      • Jackson Bay Cave
  • Mexico:
    • Yucatan Peninsula: S. cokei Kallmeyer & Carpenter, 1996 and S. holthuisi (Gordon, 1958)
      • Temple of Doom, Mayan Blue, Carwash and Naharon Caves, reported in Kallmeyer & Carpenter, 1996 for S. cokei; Cenote Pabakal, Cenote San Eduardo, Cenote Kankirixche, and Cenote Dzonot-ila in Yucatan, and Actun Ko in Quintana Roo, reported in Pesce & Iliffe, 2002.
      • Mayan Blue and Casa Cenote in Quintana Roo and Cenote Mucuych in Yucatan, reported in Pesce & Iliffe, 2002 for S. holthuisi
  • Puerto Rico: S. holthuisi (Gordon, 1958)
      • Cueva de los Murcelagos, Guanica Fores (Bowman, 1976)
  • St. Martin: S. holthuisi (Gordon, 1958)
      • Devil's Hole, reported in Gordon, 1960
  • United States:
    • Florida: S. sp. Bowman, in litt.

Species Range: Conch Bar Cave, Middle Caicos Island, and Snake Cave, Providenciales Island, both on Caicos Bank, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Closest Related Species: Stygiomysis sp. Pesce, 1975 which was collected from a freshwater well in Southern Italy

Habitat: Shallow anchialine pools within inland caves

Ecology: Found free-swimming in brackish water (23 g/l) at a depth between 5 cm to 8 m. At Conch Bar Cave, the collection site contained a significant amount of detritus consisting of leaves, twigs and land snail shells.

Evolutionary Origins: According to Pesce (Groundwater Mysids of Italy), "The remarkable distribution of Stygiomysis undoubtedly points to a Tethyan origin, all the species of this genus being actually known from the Caribbean area and South Italy."

Conservation Status: Restricted to two caves on separate islands within the Caicos bank


  • Bowman, T.E. 1986. Mysidacea. In: Lazare Botosaneanu, editor, Stygofauna Mundi: A Faunistic, Distributional, and Ecological Synthesis of the World Fauna inhabiting Subterranean Waters. Pages 405-409. Leiden: E.J. Brill/Dr. W. Backhuys.
  • Bowman, T.E., T.M. Iliffe, and J. Yager. 1984. New records of the troglobitic mysid genus Stygiomysis: S. clarkei, new species, from the Caicos Islands, and S. holthuisi (Gordon) from Grand Bahama Island (Crustacea: Mysidacea). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 97(3):637-644, 4 figures.


Contributor: Giuseppe L. Pesce, University of L'Aquila, Italy

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