Scientific name Anomura
Higher classification Pleocyemata
Length Red king crab: 1.8 m
|Lower classifications Hermit crab, Porcelain crab, Galatheoidea, Mole crabs, Hippoidea|
Anomura (sometimes Anomala) is a group of decapod crustaceans, including hermit crabs and others. Although the names of many anomurans includes the word crab, all true crabs are in the sister group to the Anomura, the Brachyura (the two groups together form the clade Meiura).
Brachyura and anomura zoea
The name Anomura derives from an old classification in which reptant decapods were divided into Macrura (long-tailed), Brachyura (short-tailed) and Anomura (differently-tailed). The alternative name Anomala reflects the unusual variety of forms in this group; whereas all crabs share some obvious similarities, the various groups of anomurans are quite dissimilar.
The group has been moulded by several instances of carcinisation – the development of a crab-like body form. Thus, the king crabs (Lithodidae), porcelain crabs (Porcellanidae) and hairy stone crab (Lomisidae) are all separate instances of carcinisation.
As decapods (meaning ten-legged), anomurans have ten pereiopods, but the last pair of these is reduced in size, and often hidden inside the gill chamber (under the carapace) to be used for cleaning the gills. Since this arrangement is very rare in true crabs (for example, the small family Hexapodidae), a "crab" with only eight visible pereiopods is generally an anomuran.
The infraorder Anomura is divided into nine superfamilies: