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 Major Groups | Crustacea (crustaceans) | Malacostraca (malacostracans) | Decapoda (yabbies plus) | Parathelphusidae


Major Group: Crustacea
Minor Group: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Parathelphusidae (formerly Sundathelphusidae)
Genus: Austrothelphusa (formerly Holthuisana)
This family is represented in Australia by a single genus, Austrohelphusa Bott.


Descriptive Features:

  • carapace subovate to quadrilateral, occasionally quadrate, usually wider than long, dorsal surface usually smooth, rarely setose
  • carapace regions more or less distinct, branchial regions often noticeably swollen, gastro-cardiac groove distinct
  • epigastric and postorbital cristae sharp to almost absent
  • front usually entire, often with median triangle well defined or discernible
  • antero- and posterolateral margins well demarcated, anterolateral margin usually prominently convex, margin usually with at least one tooth (epibranchial), rarely obsolescent, often with 2-3 teeth (excluding external orbital tooth), rarely appearing serrate
  • 3rd maxillipeds completely closing buccal cavity
  • mandibular palp 3-segmented, terminal segment clearly bilobed, although one lobe slightly smaller than other
  • male and female abdomens with 7 free segments, male abdomen subtriangular to distinctly T-shaped with last 3-4 segments very narrow
  • terminal segment always simple or may appear dilated, never with prominent spines, setae and/or processes
  • 2nd gonopod relatively short, rarely longer than of 1st gonopod
  • Carapace width: up to 50 mm

    Austrothelphusa transversa


    Austrothelphusa sp.

    Taxonomic Checklist: Species
    Austrothelphusa agassizi Rathburn
    Austrothelphusa angustifrons Milne Edwards
    Austrothelphusa raceki Bishop
    Austrothelphusa tigrina Short
    Austrothelphusa transversa Martens
    Austrothelphusa valentula Riek
    Austrothelphusa wasselli Bishop

    Distribution: NSW, NT, Qld, SA, WA
    Most species occur only in Queensland, but Austrothelphusa transversa is widespread.

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 3 (as Sundathelphusidae)

    Functional Feeding Group: gathering collectors


    Jacobs Creek, SA

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Austrothelphusa occurs in rivers, creeks, waterholes, springs, swamps and temporary ponds. Adults burrow up to 1m in swampy ground or into the stream banks.
    Feeding ecology: Austrothelphusa crabs are omnivores.
    Habit: Adults can survive several years of drought by plugging their burrows with clay.
    Life history: Austrothelphusa does not have a planktonic larval stage. Young miniature crabs hatch from large eggs and are carried around by the female for several days.


    Information Sources: Davie 2002b, Williams 1980, Hawking & Smith 1997
    Key to Species: Horwitz 1995