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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Class Eumalacostraca
Order Decapoda
Family Atyidae

Typhlatya kakuki Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005

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Typhlatya kakuki: after Alvarez et al., 2005

Taxonomic Characterization: Rostrum unarmed, oriented frontwards, not reaching distal margin of eyes, acuminate in dorsal view. Carapace smooth, devoid of spines; in lateral view, dorsal margin arched, ventral margin almost straight; orbit deeply excavated; anterior margin, from antennal angle to pterygostomian angle, straight; antennal angle slightly produced, pterygostomian angle simple; posterior margin broadly rounded laterally, overlapping first abdominal somite. Depth of carapace similar to that of abdomen. Eyes reduced, with 2 clusters of pigmented granules each. Abdomen smooth. An updated key to the 17 species in the genus is presented in Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos (2005).

Disposition of Specimens: Colección Nacional de Crustáceas, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, catalog numbers CNCR 21791 - 21794.

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: To 19 mm in total length. Carapace length of males to 6.4 mm; of females to 6.2 mm (Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005).

Number of Species in Genus: Seventeen, all stygobitic

Genus Range:

  • Ascension Island: T. rogersi Chace & Manning, 1972
  • Bahamas:
    • Acklins Island: T. kakuki Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005
  • Bermuda:
    • Tucker's Town Cave: T. iliffei Hart & Manning, 1981
  • Caicos Islands:
    • Providenciales Island: T. garciai Chace, 1942, reported in Buden and Felder, 1977
  • Cuba:
    • Camagüey, Matanzas & Pinar del Río Provinces: T. consobrina Botosaneanu & Holthuis, 1970
    • Holguín & Pinar del Río Provinces: T. garciai Chace, 1942
    • Matanzas Province: T. elenae Juarrero, 1994; T. garciadebrasi Juarrero y Ortiz, 2000
    • La Habana Province: T. taina Estrada y Gómez, 1987
  • Curaçao: T. monae Chace, 1954 reported in Debrot, 2003
  • Dominican Republic:
    • Provincia de San Pedro de Macoris: T. monae Chace, 1954 reported in Chace, 1975
  • Galapagos islands:
    • Isla de Santa Cruz: T. galapagensis Monod & Cals, 1970
  • Herzegovina: T. pretneri (Matjašic, 1956)
  • Honduras:
    • Utila: T. utilaensis, Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005
  • Leeward Islands:
    • Barbuda: T. monae Chace, 1954, reported in Chace and Hobbs, 1969
  • Puerto Rico:
    • Isla Mona: T. monae Chace, 1954 reported in Peck, 1974
  • Spain:
    • Castellon: T. miravetensis Sanz & Platvoet, 1995
  • Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico:


Species Range: Collected from two caves: Shrimp Hole and Liza Bay Cave near the southern end of Acklins Island, Bahamas.

Closest Related Species: Typhlatya kakuki is the first species of the genus to be described from the Bahamas proper, although T. garciai has been reported from the Caicos Islands, a geographical and geological continuation of the Bahamian archipelago. Geographically, T. kakuki could be related to the five known Cuban species, because the island of Cuba is the closest large land mass to Acklins Island that possesses species of Typhlatya. However, morphologically, the new species cannot be clearly related to any of them. Typhlatya consobrina, T. elenae, and T. taina have unpigmented eyes, and the ischium and merus of pereiopods 3–5 are not fused. Typhlatya garciai has pigmented eyes and an articulated ischium and merus of pereiopods 3–5. Typhlatya garciadebrasi has very long carpi of pereiopods 1–2 and a long sixth abdominal segment (Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005).

Habitat: Brackish to fully marine cave waters.

Ecology: Liza Bay Cave is a large cave, inhabited by bats, which contains a series of interconnected rooms and shallow, high-salinity (34‰) pools. The cave is the type locality for the stygobitic laomediid shrimp Naushonia manningi. Specimens of Typhlatya, along with copepods and amphipods, were collected with a plankton net from a 5 m deep pool in one corner of the cave. The copepods include the stygobitic epacteriscid Cryptonectes brachyceratus. Shrimp Hole, located 1 km northeast of Liza Bay Cave, consists of a 5 m long by 3 m wide and 2 m deep anchialine pool in a shallow karstic depression completely open to the surface. A cave appeared to extend off from the main pool as a low crack about a silt bottom. Surface salinity was 10.5‰, but below a well-defined halocline at 15 cm depth, it increased to 35‰ at 2 m. Shrimp were very abundant in the water column and on rock walls and bottom sediments (Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005).

Life History: Of the 11 specimens collected, 7 were females and 4 males (Alvarez, Iliffe and Villalobos, 2005).

Evolutionary Origins: Of the 17 species in the genus, six (from the Galapagos Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda, Ascension Island, Yucatan and the Caicos Islands) inhabit brackish or marine waters, while the remainder are found in freshwater habitats. According to Iliffe (1986:7), "species within the genus appear to have evolved from an open water marine ancestor in the Atlantic which spread westward through the Caribbean into the Pacific with prevailing currents before the closure of the Panama land bridge." Iliffe et al. (1983) suggested an origin of the genus on submerged and emergent seamounts associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during the separation of the American and African continental masses.
Sanz and Platvoet (1995) believe that the occurrence of the genus in Europe links the origin of the genus Typhlatya to the Tethys Sea. The ancestor was probably a marine, coastal shrimp inhabiting low latitude seas. Maximal development of the ancestral range probably occurred in the Late Cretaceous (about 90 MYA). The full opening of the Atlantic and the end of global Tethyan currents divided its range into three populations: European, Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Central American. Central American populations were further subdivided by plate tectonics into Yucatan, Antilles and Galapagos populations. For unknown reasons, the ancestral marine populations disappeared, leaving only those species that had earlier entered the cave environment. Absence of clear morphological patterns within the recent species may be due to the early timing of isolation between and within lineages.

Conservation Status: Found in only two caves near the southern end of Acklins Island, Bahamas.


  • Alvarez, F., T.M. Iliffe and J.L. Villalobos. 2005. New species of the genus Typhlatya (Decapoda: Atyidae) from anchialine caves in Mexico, the Bahamas, and Honduras. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 25(1):81–94, 7 figures.
  • Botosaneanu, L., and L.B. Holthuis. 1970. Subterranean shrimps from Cuba (Crusacea: Decapoda: Natantia). Travaux de L'Institut de Spéologie, "Emile Racovitza," 9:121-133, 2 figures.
  • Buden, D.W., and D.L. Felder. 1977. Cave shrimps in the Caicos Islands. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 90(1):108-115.
  • Chace, F.A. Jr. 1954. Two new subterranean shrimps (Decapoda: Caridea) from Florida and the West Indies, with a revised key to the American species. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, 44(10):318-324, 2 figures.
  • Chace, F.A. Jr. 1975. Cave shrimp (Decapoda: Caridea) from the Dominican Republic. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 88:29-44, 7 figures.
  • Chace, F.A. Jr. and H.H. Hobbs Jr. 1969. The freshwater and terrestrial decapod crustaceans of the West Indies with special reference to Dominica. United States National Museum Bulletin, 292:1-258, 76 figures.
  • Chace, F.A. Jr., and R.B. Manning. 1972. Two new caridean shrimps, one representing a new family, from marine pools on Ascension Island (Crustacea: Decapoda: Natantia). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 131:1-18, 11 figures.
  • Creaser, E.P. 1936. Crustaceans from Yucatan. In: A.S. Pearse, E.P. Creaser, and F.G. Hall, The cenotes of Yucatan: a zoological and hydrographic survey. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publications, 47:117-132, 43 figures.
  • Hart C.W. Jr., and R.B. Manning. 1981. The cavernicolous caridean shrimps of Bermuda (Alpheidae, Hippolytidae, and Atyidae). Journal of Crustacean Biology, 1(3):441-456, 77 figures.
  • Hobbs, H.H. III. 1979. Additional notes on cave shrimps (Crustacea: Atyidae and Palaemonidae) from the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 92(3):618-633, 3 figures, 2 tables.
  • Hobbs, H.H. Jr. and H.H. Hobbs III. 1976. One the troglobitic shrimps of the Yucatan Peninsula (Decapoda: Atyidae and Palaemonidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 240:1-23, 8 figures, 2 maps.
  • Hobbs, H.H. Jr., H.H. Hobbs III, and M.A. Daniel. 1977. A review of troglobitic decapod crustaceans of the Americas. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 244:1-183.
  • Iliffe, T.M. 1986. The zonation model for the evolution of aquatic faunas in anchialine waters. Stygologia, 2:2-9.
  • Iliffe, T.M., C.W. Hart, Jr. and R.B. Manning. 1983. Biogeography and the caves of Bermuda. Nature, 302:141-142.
  • Juarrero, A. y M. Ortiz. 2000. El género Typhlatya (Crustacea: Decapoda: Atyidae) en Cuba, con la descripción de una nueva especie. Avicennia, 12/13:45-54, 6 figures.
  • Monod, T. and P. Cals. 1970. Sur une espece nouvelle de crevette cavernicole: Typhlatya galapagensis (Decapoda Natantia; Atyidae). Mission Zoologique Belge aux Iles Galapagos et en Ecuador, 2:57-103, 67 figures.
  • Peck, S.B. 1974. The invertebrate fauna of tropical American caves, part II: Puerto Rico, an ecological and zoogeographic analysis. Biotropica, 6(1):14-31, 8 figures.
  • Pérez-Aranda, L. 1983. Atyidae: Typhlatya pearsei. Fauna de los Cenotes de Yucatan, No. 3, Universidad de Yucatan, Merida, 11 pp., 2 figures, 4 maps.
  • Reddell, J.R. 1977. A preliminary survey of the caves of the Yucatan Peninsula. In: Survey of the Caves and Cave Fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula, J.R. Reddell (ed.), Association for Mexican Cave Studies Bulletin 6, pages 215-296, 15 figures, 1 table.
  • Sanz, S. and D. Platvoet. 1995. New perspectives of the evolution of the genus Typhlatya (Crustacea, Decapoda): First record of a cavernicolous atyid in the Iberian Peninsula, Typhlatya miravetensis n. sp. Contributions to Zoology (Amsterdam), 65(2):215-296, 8 figures, 4 tables.
  • Wilkens, H. 1982. Regressive evolution and phylogenetic age: The history of colonization of freshwaters of Yucatan by fish and Crustacea. Association of Mexican Cave Studies Bulletin, 8:237-243.

Contributor: Fernando Alvarez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

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