Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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Infraorder ANOMURA H. Milne Edwards, 1832

Compiler and date details

April 2012 - Peter Davie, Queensland Museum

  • Anomoures H. Milne Edwards, 1832.



The infraorder Anomura now is considered to include 19 families arranged in seven superfamilies (see McLaughlin et al. 2010; Ahyong et al. 2011): Lomisoidea (hairy stone-crabs—Lomisidae); Lithodoidea (stone or king crabs, Hapalogastridae, Lithodidae); Paguroidea (hermit-crabs— Coenobitidae, Diogenidae, Paguridae, Parapaguridae, Pylochelidae, Pylojacquesidae); Aegloidea (Aeglidae); Galatheoidea (squat lobsters, porcellain-crabs and allies— Galatheidae, Munididae, Munidopsidae Porcellanidae); Chirostyloidea (Chirostylidae, Eumunididae); and Hippoidea (mole-crabs—Albuneidae, Blepharipodidae, Hippidae). Only the Aeglidae, Hapalogastridae and Blepharipodidae are not represented in Australian waters. Borradaile (1903) included the Thalassinoidea within the Anomura, and this view held sway for many years, even into recent literature (Glaessner 1969; McLaughlin 1980; Williams 1984). Burkenroad (1963) excluded thalassinids, a move supported by de Saint Laurent (1979), and having wide acceptance since Bowman & Abele's (1982) 'Classification of Recent Crustacea'.

Within the Paguroidea the traditional concept of evolution held that the lithodid crab-like body form evolved from a typical shell-dwelling hermit crab—a view given modern credence by Cunningham et al. (1992) on the basis of DNA data. However, in two recent papers, McLaughlin & Lemaitre (1997, 2000) have presented convincing evidence from adult and larval morphology that points to the reverse having occurred, the hermit-crabs having arisen from a lithodid-like ancestor through calcium loss, habitat change, and consequential morphological adaptations.

Williamson (1992) and Spears et al. (1992) posited the controversial view that the Dromioidea brachyurans are actually anomurans, although this was disputed by Scholtz & Richter (1995), and is not accepted here.

Often the alternative name 'Anomala' has been used for this group. McLaughlin & Holthuis (1985) discussed thoroughly the nomenclatural history of both names, and recommended use of Anomura on the basis of widest usage, and in the interests of stability of nomenclature.



Carapace variable in shape; not fused to epistome. Eyes stalked, compound; generally well developed. Antennules with peduncle 3-segmented; flagella usually paired. Antennal peduncles sometimes with 5, possibly 6, or fewer segments; exopod usually reduced to acicle; flagellum variable in length. Mandibles with or without palp; molar and incisor processes usually not distinct. Maxillulae with endopodal palp. Maxillae biramous; usually with bilobed endites. Maxillipeds with flagella usually present; sometimes absent from first; often with crista dentata; usually not operculate. First pereiopod usually chelate, second sometimes chelate; fourth and fifth usually chelate or subchelate, one or both frequently reduced. Abdomen with pleopods rarely well developed; often reduced or present only on one side; both sexes sometimes with copulatory structures; uropods often reduced or modified, occasionally absent; telson occasionally reduced or absent; sometimes together with uropods forming tailfan. Segmentation: head with 5 + 3 thoracic (maxillipeds); thorax with 5; abdomen with 6, excluding telson, although segmentation frequently obscured. Sexes separate; gonopores on coxae of third pereiopods of female, on fifth of male; first and/or second pleopods often modified as gonopods in both sexes; female sometimes with abdominal brood pouch; male sometimes with sexual tube(s). (After McLaughlin 1980).


General References

Ahyong, S.T., Lowry, J.K., Alonso, M., Bamber, R.N., Boxshall, G.A., Castro, P., Gerken, S., Karaman, G.S., Goy, J.W., Jones, D.S., Meland, K., Rogers, D.C., Svavarsson, J. 2011. Subphylum Crustacea Brünnich, 1772. Pp. 165–191. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.), Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. Zootaxa 3148: 1–237

Borradaile, L.A. 1903. On the classification of the Thalassinidea. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12(7): 534-551, 638

Bowman, T.E. & Abele, L.G. 1982. Classification of Recent Crustacea. pp. 1-27 in Abele, L.G. (ed.). The Biology of Crustacea. Vol. 1. Systematics, the Fossil Record, and Biogeography. New York : Academic Press.

Burkenroad, M.D. 1963. The evolution of the Eucarida, (Crustacea, Eumalocostraca), in relation to the fossil record. Tulane Studies in Geology 2(1): 1-17

Cunningham, C.W., Blackstone, N.W. & Buss, L.W. 1992. Evolution of King Crabs from hermit crab ancestors. Nature (London) 355: 539-542

de Saint Laurent, M. 1979. Sur la classification et la phylogénie des Thalassinides: définition des familles des Callianassidae et des Upogebiidae et diagnose de cinq genres nouveaux. Comptes Rendus (Hebdomadaires) des Séances de l'Academie des Sciences. Série D. Sciences Naturelles 288: 1395-1397

Glaessner, M.F. 1969. Decapoda. pp. R399-R533, R626-R628 in Moore, R.C. (ed.). Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. Part R. Arthropoda 4 Crustacea (except Ostracoda) Myriapoda — Hexapoda. Laurence, Kansas : The University of Kansas and The Geological Society of America, Inc. Vol. 2 pp. R399-R651.

McLaughlin, P.A. 1980. Comparative Morphology of Recent Crustacea. San Francisco : W.H. Freeman & Co. 177 pp.

McLaughlin, P.A., Komai, T., Lemaitre, R. & Rahayu, D.L. 2010. Part I – Lithodoidea, Lomisoidea and Paguroidea. In, Low, M.E.Y. & Tan, S.H. Annotated checklist of anomuran decapod crustaceans of the world (exclusive of the Kiwaoidea and families Chirostylidae and Galatheidae of the Galatheoidea). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Suppl. 23: 5–107

McLaughlin, P.A. & Holthuis, L.B. 1985. Anomura versus Anomala. Crustaceana 47(2): 204-209

McLaughlin, P.A. & Lemaitre, R. 1993. A review of the hermit crab genus Paguritta (Decapoda: Anomura: Paguridae) with descriptions of three new species. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 41(1): 1-29

McLaughlin, P.A. & Lemaitre, R. 2000. Aspects of evolution in the anomuran superfamily Paguroidea: one larval prospective. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development 38(3): 159-169

Sholtz, G. & Richter, S. 1995. Phylogenetic systematics of the reptantian Decapoda (Crustacea, Malacostraca). Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 113: 289-328

Spears, T., Abele, L.G. & Kim, W. 1992. The monophyly of brachyuran crabs: a phylogenetic study based on 18S rRNA. Systematic Biology 41: 446-461

Williams, A.B. 1984. Shrimps, Lobsters, and Crabs of the Atlantic Coast of the Eastern United States, Maine to Florida. Washington, DC : Smithsonian Institution Press 550 pp.

Williamson, D.I. 1992. Larvae and Evolution. Towards a New Zoology. New York : Chapman & Hall 223 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
05-Dec-2019 DECAPODA Latreille, 1802 07-Mar-2019 MODIFIED Dr Shane Ahyong
24-Apr-2012 01-May-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)