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Purple rock crab444.jpg
Leptograpsus variegatus , Grapsidae
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Section: Eubrachyura
Subsection: Thoracotremata
Guinot, 1977

See text

Thoracotremata is a clade of crabs, comprising those crabs in which the genital openings in both sexes are on the sternum, rather than on the legs. It comprises 17 families in four superfamilies . [1]



Thoracotremata is the sister group to Heterotremata within the clade Eubrachyura, having diverged during the Cretaceous period. Eubrachyura itself is a subset of the larger clade Brachyura, which consists of all "true crabs". A summary of the high-level internal relationships within Brachyura can be shown in the cladogram below: [2] [3]








The internal relationships within Thoracotremata are less certain, with many of the superfamilies found to be invalid. The proposed cladogram below is from analysis by Tsang et al, 2014: [2]
















Superfamilies and families

However, recent studies have found the superfamilies Grapsoidea and Ocypodoidea to be polyphyletic and invalid. [2] [3]

Related Research Articles

Caridea Infraorder of shrimp

The Caridea, commonly known as caridean shrimp or true shrimp, are an infraorder of shrimp within the order Decapoda. This infraorder contains all species of true shrimp. They are found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Many other animals with similar names – such as the mud shrimp of Axiidea and the boxer shrimp of Stenopodidea – are not true shrimp, but many have evolved features similar to true shrimp.

Crab Infraorder of decapod crustaceans

Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting "tail" (abdomen), usually hidden entirely under the thorax. They live in all the world's oceans, in fresh water, and on land, are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton, and have a single pair of pincers. They first appeared during the Jurassic Period.

Decapoda Order of crustaceans

The Decapoda or decapods are an order of crustaceans within the class Malacostraca, including many familiar groups, such as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp and prawns. Most decapods are scavengers. The order is estimated to contain nearly 15,000 species in around 2,700 genera, with around 3,300 fossil species. Nearly half of these species are crabs, with the shrimp and Anomura including hermit crabs, porcelain crabs, squat lobsters making up the bulk of the remainder. The earliest fossil decapod is the Devonian Palaeopalaemon.

Reptantia Suborder of crustaceans

Reptantia is a clade of decapod crustaceans named in 1880 which includes lobsters, crabs and many other well-known crustaceans.

Pleocyemata Suborder of crustaceans

Pleocyemata is a suborder of decapod crustaceans, erected by Martin Burkenroad in 1963. Burkenroad's classification replaced the earlier sub-orders of Natantia and Reptantia with the monophyletic groups Dendrobranchiata (prawns) and Pleocyemata. Pleocyemata contains all the members of the Reptantia, as well as the Stenopodidea, and Caridea, which contains the true shrimp.

Achelata Infraorder of crustaceans

The Achelata is an infra-order of the decapod crustaceans, holding the spiny lobsters, slipper lobsters and their fossil relatives.

Anomura Infraorder of crustaceans

Anomura is a group of decapod crustaceans, including hermit crabs and others. Although the names of many anomurans include the word crab, all true crabs are in the sister group to the Anomura, the Brachyura.

Stenopodidea Infraorder of crustaceans

The Stenopodidea or boxer shrimps are a small group of decapod crustaceans. Often confused with Caridea shrimp or Dendrobranchiata prawns, they are neither, belonging to their own group.

Astacidea Infraorder of crustaceans

Astacidea is an infraorder of decapod crustaceans including lobsters, crayfish, and their close relatives.

Raninoida Superfamily of crabs

Raninoida is a taxonomic section of the crabs, containing a single superfamily, Raninoidea. This group of crabs is unlike most, with the abdomen not being folded under the thorax. It comprises 46 extant species, and nearly 200 species known only from fossils.

Calappoidea Superfamily of crabs

Calappoidea is a superfamily of crabs comprising the two families Calappidae and Matutidae. The earliest fossils attributable to the Calappoidea date from the Aptian.

Cyclodorippoida is a group of crabs, ranked as a section. It contains the single superfamily Cyclodorippoidea, which holds three families, Cyclodorippidae, Cymonomidae and Phyllotymolinidae.

Homoloidea Superfamily of crabs

Homoloidea is a superfamily of dromiacean crabs. Homoloidea belongs the group Dromiacea, taxonomically ranked as a section, and is the sister group to Dromioidea. Dromiacea is the most basal grouping of Brachyura crabs, and likely diverged from the rest of Brachyura around the Late Triassic or Early Jurassic. The close relation between Homoloidea and Dromioidea is primarily established through ultrastructural characteristics of the sperm.

Dromioidea Superfamily of crabs

Dromioidea is a superfamily of crabs mostly found in Madagascar. Dromioidea belongs the group Dromiacea, taxonomically ranked as a section, which is the most basal grouping of Brachyura crabs. Dromiacea likely diverged from the rest of Brachyura around the Late Triassic or Early Jurassic, and the earliest fossils attributable to the Dromioidea date from the Late Jurassic.

Podotremata Group of crabs

Podotremata is a traditionally used section of crabs (Brachyura), now considered to be invalid. It was the smaller grouping of crabs, separate from the larger Eubrachyura section. Morphological and molecular analyses do not reveal a monophyletic Podotremata, but rather that it is paraphyletic, and so the most recent classifications divide "Podotremata" into three sections: Dromiacea, Cyclodorippoidea and Raninoida.

Dromiacea Group of crabs

Dromiacea is a group of crabs, ranked as a section. It contains 240 extant and nearly 300 extinct species. Dromiacea is the most basal grouping of Brachyura crabs, diverging the earliest in the evolutionary history, around the Late Triassic or Early Jurassic. Below is a cladogram showing Dromiacea's placement within Brachyura:

Polychelida Infraorder of crustaceans

Polychelida is an infraorder of decapod crustaceans. Fossil representatives are known dating from as far back as the Upper Triassic. A total of 38 extant species, all in the family Polychelidae, and 55 fossil species have been described.

Eubrachyura Group of crabs

Eubrachyura is a group of decapod crustaceans comprising the more derived crabs. It is divided into two subsections, based on the position of the genital openings in the two sexes. In the Heterotremata, the openings are on the legs in the males, but on the sternum in females, while in the Thoracotremata, the openings are on the sternum in both sexes. This contrasts with the situation in other decapods, in which the genital openings are always on the legs. Heterotremata is the larger of the two groups, containing the species-rich superfamilies Xanthoidea and Pilumnoidea and all the freshwater crabs (Gecarcinucoidea, Potamoidea. The eubrachyura is well known for actively and constantly building its own burrows. The fossil record of the Eubrachyura extends back to the Cretaceous; the supposed Bathonian representative of the group, Hebertides jurassica, ultimately turned out to be Cenozoic in age.

Heterotremata Clade of crabs

Heterotremata is a clade of crabs, comprising those crabs in which the genital openings are on the sternum in females, but on the legs in males. It comprises 68 families in 28 superfamilies.

Gebiidea Infraorder of crustaceans

Gebiidea is an infraorder of decapod crustaceans. Gebiidea and Axiidea are divergent infraoders of the former infraorder Thalassinidea. These infraorders have converged ecologically and morphologically as burrowing forms. Based on molecular evidence as of 2009, it is now widely believed that these two infraorders represent two distinct lineages separate from one another. Since this is a recent change, much of the literature and research surrounding these infraorders still refers to the Axiidea and Gebiidea in combination as "thalassinidean" for the sake of clarity and reference. This division based on molecular evidence is consistent with the groupings proposed by Robert Gurney in 1938 based on larval developmental stages.


  1. Sammy De Grave; N. Dean Pentcheff; Shane T. Ahyong; et al. (2009). "A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans" (PDF). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology . Suppl. 21: 1–109.
  2. 1 2 3 Ling Ming Tsang; Christoph D. Schubart; Shane T. Ahyong; Joelle C.Y. Lai; Eugene Y.C. Au; Tin-Yam Chan; Peter K.L. Ng; Ka Hou Chu (2014). "Evolutionary History of True Crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) and the Origin of Freshwater Crabs". Molecular Biology and Evolution . Oxford University Press . 31 (5): 1173–1187. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu068 .
  3. 1 2 Wolfe, Joanna M.; Breinholt, Jesse W.; Crandall, Keith A.; Lemmon, Alan R.; Lemmon, Emily Moriarty; Timm, Laura E.; Siddall, Mark E.; Bracken-Grissom, Heather D. (24 April 2019). "A phylogenomic framework, evolutionary timeline and genomic resources for comparative studies of decapod crustaceans". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 286 (1901). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0079 . PMC   6501934 . PMID   31014217.