Fish - Crabs

Glossary - Animal Derivatives


 Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short "tail" (Greek: brachy = short, ura = tail), or where the abdomen is entirely hidden under the thorax. They are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton, and are armed with a single pair of chelae (claws). Crabs are found in all of the world's oceans; there are also many freshwater and terrestrial crabs, particularly in tropical regions. Crabs vary in size from the pea crab, only a few millimetres wide, to the Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of up to 4 m [1].

odified into a pair of claws and is not used for locomotion. In all but a few crabs (for example, Raninoida), the abdomen is folded under the cephalothorax. The mouthparts of crabs are covered by flattened maxillipeds, and the front of the carapace does not form a long rostrum [2]. The gills of crabs are formed of flattened plates ("phyllobranchiate"), resembling those of shrimp, but of a different structure [3].

Most crabs show clear sexual dimorphism and so can be easily sexed. The abdomen, which is held recurved under the thorax, is narrow in males. In females, however, the abdomen retains a greater number of pleopods and is considerably wider [4]. This relates to the carrying of the fertilised eggs by the female crabs (as seen in all pleocyemates). In those species in which no such dimorphism is found, the position of the gonopores must be used instead. In females, these are on the third pereiopod, or nearby on the sternum in higher crabs; in males, the gonopores are at the base of the fifth pereiopods or, in higher crabs, on the sternum nearby.


Crabs are omnivores, feeding primarily on algae [5], and taking any other food, including molluscs, worms, other crustaceans, fungi, bacteria and detritus, depending on their availability and the crab species. For many crabs, a mixed diet of plant and animal matter results in the fastest growth and greatest fitness [6][7].

Crabs make up 20% of all marine crustaceans caught and farmed worldwide, with over 1

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