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Spiny lobster

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Title: Spiny lobster  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Panulirus homarus, Japanese spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, Panulirus versicolor, Sagmariasus
Collection: Achelata, Albian First Appearances, Commercial Crustaceans, Edible Crustaceans
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Spiny lobster

Spiny lobsters
Temporal range: 110–0 Ma
Panulirus interruptus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Achelata
Family: Palinuridae
Latreille, 1802

Spiny lobsters, also known as langouste or rock lobsters, are a family (Palinuridae) of about 60 species of achelate crustaceans, in the Decapoda Reptantia. Spiny lobsters are also, especially in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and The Bahamas, sometimes called crayfish, sea crayfish or crawfish ("kreef" in South Africa), terms which elsewhere are reserved for freshwater crayfish.[1]


  • Classification 1
  • Description 2
  • Fossil record 3
  • Ecology 4
    • Sound 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • External links 7


The furry lobsters (e.g. Palinurellus) were previously separated into a family of their own, the Synaxidae, but are usually considered members of the Palinuridae.[2] The slipper lobsters (Scyllaridae) are their next closest relatives, and these two or three families make up the Achelata.[2] Genera of spiny lobsters include Palinurus and a number of anagrams thereof:[3] Panulirus, Linuparus, etc. (Palinurus was also a helmsman in Virgil's Æneid.) In total, twelve extant genera are recognised, containing around 60 living species:[4][5]


Although they superficially resemble chelae (claws) on the first four pairs of walking legs, although the females of most species have a small claw on the fifth pair,[6] and by a particularly specialized larval phase called phyllosoma. True lobsters have much smaller antennae and claws on the first three pairs of legs, with the first being particularly enlarged.

Spiny lobsters have typically a slightly compressed carapace, lacking any lateral ridges. Their antennae lack a scaphocerite, the flattened exopod of the antenna. This is fused to the epistome (a plate between the labrum and the basis of the antenna). The flagellum, at the top of the antenna, is stout, tapering and very long. The ambulatory legs (pereopods) end in claws (chelae).[7]

Fossil record

The fossil record of spiny lobsters has been extended by the discovery in 1995 of a 110 million year-old fossil near El Espiñal in Chiapas, Mexico. Workers from the National University of Mexico have named the fossil Palinurus palaecosi, and report that it is closest to members of the genus Palinurus currently living off the coasts of Africa.[8]


Fishing for Panulirus argus in Venezuela

Spiny lobsters are found in almost all warm seas, including the Caribbean and the Mediterranean Sea, but are particularly common in Australasia, where they are referred to commonly as crayfish or sea crayfish (Jasus edwardsii),[9] and in South Africa (Jasus lalandii).

Spiny lobsters tend to live in crevices of rocks and coral reefs, only occasionally venturing out at night to seek snails, clams, sea-hares,[10] crabs, or sea urchins to eat. Sometimes, they migrate in very large groups in long files of lobsters across the sea floor. These lines may be more than 50 lobsters long. Spiny lobsters navigate by using the smell and taste of natural substances in the water that change in different parts of the ocean. It was recently discovered that spiny lobsters can also navigate by detecting the Earth's magnetic field.[11] They keep together by contact, using their long antennae.[12] Potential predators may be deterred from eating spiny lobsters by a loud screech made by the antennae of the spiny lobsters rubbing against a smooth part of the exoskeleton.[13] Spiny lobsters usually exhibit social habit by being together. However recent studies indicate that healthy lobsters move away from infected ones leaving the diseased lobsters to fend for themselves.[14]

Like true lobsters, spiny lobsters are edible and are an economically significant food source; they are the biggest food export of the Bahamas, for instance.[15]


Many spiny lobsters produce Jasus, Projasus and the furry lobster Palinurellus),[17] and its form can distinguish different species.[18]


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External links

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Palinuridae at Wikispecies
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