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Volume 48, 1915
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Art. XXXIX.—Notes on the Marine Crayfish of New Zealand.

[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 3rd November, 1915]


These notes are intended to bring together the various scattered references to the marine crayfishes of New Zealand, and thus to have definitely recorded in the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute” the correct names and complete descriptions of these forms. Descriptions of the larval stages, so far as they are at present known, have also been included.

There are only two species of New Zealand marine crayfish, both belonging to the same genus. They were first assigned to the genus Palinurus, to which the English crayfish belongs, but T. Jeffrey Parker (1883, p 190) pointed out that the genus, as then understood, could be divided into three subgenera, which he named Jasus, Palinurus, and Panulirus, the New Zealand species belonging to the first-named, which was distinguished chiefly by the absence of the stridulating organ. The full text of Parker's paper was published in the following year (Parker, 1884, p. 304) Parker subsequently claimed priority for the name Jasus as a generic name over Palinosytus, described by Spence Bate (1888, p. 85), and quoted by Stebbing (1893, p. 197), and so the generic name Jasus now stands for the New Zealand crayfishes.

Of the two species of Jasus known from New Zealand, the first is the common crayfish Jasus laland (M -Edw) sold in the shops, and the other, J. hugelin (Heller), is the Sydney crayfish, which is only met with occasionally in New Zealand seas, and then only on the northern coasts.

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Archey.—The Marine Crayfish of New Zealand.

The common New Zealand crayfish was described by Hutton (1875, p. 279) under the name of Palinurus edwardsii; he distinguished it from P. laland Milne-Edwards, previously known from the Cape of Good Hope, “by its much smaller size, the shape of the beak, its having no spine on the penultimate joint of the anterior legs, and in having a second small spine at the distal extremity of the third joint of the last four pairs of legs.” Miers (1876, p. 74) stated that he had hitherto believed P. lalandii to be common in New Zealand, but he found that all specimens so named, from New Zealand, in the British Museum agreed with Hutton's P. edwardsii, and so he was doubtful whether P. lalandii were really to be found in New Zealand. He therefore placed it in the catalogue with the habitat “New Zealand” queried. P. edwardsii was included in the “Catalogue of the Australian Crustacea” by Haswell (1882, p. 171), who added, “Found also at St. Paul and in New Zealand.”

In order to settle the question of the identity of P. lalandii and P. edwardsii, Parker (1887, p. 150) obtained specimens of the undoubted P. laland, which should now be known as Jasus lalandii, from Cape Town, and compared them with Hutton's specimens in the Otago Museum. He saw that the characters relied upon by Hutton to distinguish the two species were individual variations common to specimens of both Jasus lalandii and J. edwardsii, and therefore could not be used to separate the two species; but he found in the sculpturing of the segments of the abdomen characters which would distinguish his Cape Town specimens from Hutton's New Zealand forms. At the same time he pointed out that the differences were slight, and that the examination of specimens from other localities might show that the species would have to be united.

In the following year Dr. F. McCoy (1887, preface) stated that the Melbourne crayfish, which he referred to Palinurus lalandii, was the same as the crayfish from the Cape of Good Hope, and that it was found at New Zealand and at the Island of St. Paul; later (1888, p. 222, note) he referred to Parker's paper (1887), remarking that he also had obtained specimens from Cape Town to examine, and had independently come to the same conclusion as Parker as to the characters given by Hutton, and that his observations further showed that the sculpturing of the abdomen could not be used to distinguish the species. McCoy did not formally unite the two species, however. This has since been done by Ortmann (1891, p. 16), who has united J. frontalis (M.-Edw.), from Chile, J. paulensis (Heller) from St. Paul, and J. edwardsii (Hutton) with J. lalandii (M.-Edw.), and the name as understood by Ortmann has been quoted by Stebbing (1902, p. 38); the New Zealand marine crayfish should therefore now be known as Jasus lalandii (Milne-Edwards).

In 1880, T. W. Kirk (1880, p. 313) described under the name Palinurus tumidus a very large crayfish obtained from Waingaroa, in the north of Auckland. He distinguished it from Palinurus hügelii, described and figured by Heller (1868, p. 96, pl. vii), by its larger size, the beak, supra-orbital and antennal spines being turned upwards, and by the telson being less triangular, and rounded instead of scarped.

Haswell (1882, p. 172) pointed out that these differences do not exist, except in regard to the telson, where he supposed they were due to the wearing, or other mutilation, of this part in Heller's specimen. Haswell's opinion was later confirmed by McCoy (1888, p. 222), whose description and plate of Palinurus (Jasus) hugelii from Sydney agreed with T. W. Kirk's description of his Palinurus tumidus.

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I have examined specimens of Jasus hügelii from Auckland, and also one specimen from Sunday Island, in the Kermadec Group, this being the one mentioned by Dr. Chilton (1911A, p. 549). I have concluded that J. tumidus (Kirk) is the same as J. hügelii (Heller), which is thus the second species of New Zealand marine crayfish.

Genus Jasus T. Jeffrey Parker, 1883.

1883. Jasus Parker, Nature, vol. 29, p 190. 1884 Jasus Parker, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 16, p. 304. 1888. Palinosytus Bate, “Challenger” Reports, Crustacea Macrura, vol. 24, p. ix. 1888. Palinostus Bate, “Challenger” Reports, Crustacea Maciura, vol. 24, pp. ix, 85. 1891. Jasus Ortmann, Zool. Jahrb, vol. 6, pp. 14, 16. 1893. (Palinosytus) Stebbing, “A History of the Crustacea,” p 196. 1893. Jasus Stebbing, ibid., p. 197. 1897. Jasus Ortmann, “American Journal of Science,” vol. 4, p. 291. 1900. Jasus Stebbing, “Marine Investigations in South Africa: Crustacea,” pt. i, p. 30. 1902. Jasus Stebbing, ibid., pt. ii, p. 38.

The following is the generic diagnosis as given by Parker: “Stridulating organ absent; rostrum well developed, clasped by paired pedate processes of the epimeral plates; procephalic processes present, coxocerites imperfectly fused; antennulary flagella short.”

The New Zealand species may be distinguished by the following key:—

  • 1.

    Rostrum much smaller than the supra-orbital spines; tubercles on cara-pace each surrounded by a ring of small hairs .. .. .. J. lalandii.

  • 2.

    Rostrum at least as large as supra-orbital spines; no hairs on carapace J. hugelii.

Jasus lalandii (Milne-Edwards), 1837. Plate XXIX, Fig. 3.

1837. Palinurus lalandii Milne-Edwards, Hist Nat. Crust, vol 2, p. 293. 1843. P. lalandii Krauss, Sudafrik Crust, p. 53. 1868 P lalandii Heller, Reise der “Novara,” Crustacea, p 96. 1875. P. edwardsii Hutton, Trans. N. Z. Inst., vol. 7, p. 279. 1876. P. edwardsii? Miers, Cat. Stalk- and Sessile-eyed Crust of New Zealand, p. 74. 1882. P. edwardsii Haswell, Cat. Australian Stalk- and Sessile-eyed Crust, p. 171. 1884. Jasus edwardsii, Parker, Trans. N Z Inst., vol. 16, p. 304 1887. Palinurus lalandii McCoy, “Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria,” vol., dec. xv, p. 193, pl. 149 and 150 1887. P edwardsii, Parker, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 19, p. 194, pl. x, figs 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12. 1888. Palinostus lalandii, Bate, “Challenger” Reports, Crustacea Macrura, vol xxiv, p 86 1888. Palinurus lalandii McCoy, “Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria,” vol ii, dec xvi, p 222, note. 1891. Jasus lalandii Ortmann, Zool. Jahrb, vol 6, p. 16. 1902. J. lalandii Stebbing, “Marine Investigations in South Africa, Crustacea,” pt n, p 38. 1911. J. edwardsii Chilton, “Records of the Canterbury Museum,” vol. i, p. 303.


Rostrum much smaller than the supra-orbital spines, depressed, and rapidly narrowing anteriorly to the apex, which curves upwards; clasping processes from the epimeral plates curving round the rostrum, and meeting or nearly meeting above it.

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Fig. 1.Jasus hugelii (Heller), Wamgaroa, Auckland
Fig. 2.—Carapace of Jasus hugelii (Heller).
Fig. 3.—Jasus lalandii (Milne-Edwards), Banks Peninsula.

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Archey.—The Marine Crayfish of New Zealand.

Carapace armed with spines, and large, oval, depressed tubercles, each surrounded by rows of short hairs.

Abdomen sculptured with flat tubercles separated by rows of short hairs; abdominal pleura with a single large, backwardly curved spine below, and toothed posteriorly.

Antennules longer than the peduncle of the antennae; antennae longer than the body.

First pair of peraeopods with a large spine on the under-surface of the ischium and the merus; last four pairs with 1 or 2 spines on the upper surface of the distal end of the merus.

Colour: Carapace dark brownish-purple; abdomen the same, marbled with yellow; legs and caudal appendages reddish-orange more or less marked with purple.

Length, 12 in. to 18 in.

Hab.—Chile, Tristan da Cunha, St. Paul Island, Cape of Good Hope, southern shores of New Zealand.

Jasus hügelii (Heller), 1861. Plate XXIX, figs. 1 and 2.

1861. Palinurus hugelii Heller, Sitzungsb. der Weiner Akad. der Wissenschaften, Bd. 45, S. 393. 1868. P. hügelii Heller, Reise der “Novara,” Crust., p. 96, pl. 8. 1879. P. tumidus Kirk, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 12, p. 314, pl. xi. 1882. P. hügelii Haswell, Cat. Australian Stalk- and Sessile-eyed Crust., p. 172. 1884. Jasus hugelii Parker, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 16, p. 304. 1888. Palinurus hügelii McCoy, “Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria,” vol. ii, dec, xvi, p. 221, pl. 159. 1888. Palinostus hügelii Bate, “Challenger” Reports, Crustacea Macrura, vol. xxiv, p. 85. 1911. Jasus hugelii Chilton, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 43, p. 549.


Rostrum as large as, or larger than, supra-orbital spines; clasping processes from the epimeral plates small, attached only to the under-surface of the rostrum.

Carapace armed with forwardly directed sharp spines only, which are not separated by rows of hairs; there are no flattened tubercles on the carapace.

Abdomen not sculptured, but provided with scattered small blunt spines, without hairs; abdominal pleura as in J. lalandii, except that the large spine is not so markedly curved backward.

Antennules longer than the peduncle of the antenna; antennae shorter than the body.

First pair of peraeopods with 3 small spines on the under-surface of the ischium, and with a large spine on the under-surface of the merus; last four pairs with 1 spine on the distal end of the upper surface of the merus.

Colour: Upper surface dark olive-brown; sides of carapace and abdominal pluera chestnut, with a few small scattered cream spots; antennae and legs reddish-brown.

Length: Commonly 12 in.; large specimens up to 2 ft.

Hab.—Indian Ocean, New South Wales, Port Phillip (rare), New Zealand, Kermadec Islands.

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Larval Stages.

There are four well-marked stages known in the life-history of Jasus lalandii, which might briefly be noted as—(a) the naupliosoma, a form swimming rapidly by means of the antennae; (b) the phyllosoma, which swims more slowly, and uses the exopods of the thoracic legs; (c) the “natant” stage, or puerulus, which either walks about the bottom, or swims by means of the abdominal pleopods, which are specially hooked together for the purpose; and (d) the adult, which makes use of the telson and uropods occasionally for swimming.*

I have had for examination specimens of the three larval stages of J. lalandii, and the following notes will be in the form of brief descriptions of them. The first two stages—the naupliosoma and the phyllosoma—are described from specimens reared by Mr. T. Anderton, of the Portobello Marine Fish-hatchery, Dunedin; and the pueruli were collected at Stewart Island by Mr. Walter Traill. I have also a specimen of the puerulus of J. hügelii, collected at Cuvier Island, near Auckland, by Mr. P. W. Grenfell. All the specimens were in the possession of Dr. Chilton, who very kindly forwarded it to me to describe in this paper.

(a.) The Naupliosoma (Fig. 1).

The naupliosoma larva has only recently been described by Gilchrist (1913, p. 225), who observed it hatching from specimens of Jasus lalandii kept in tanks. This stage lasted only a very short time (four to six hours), and would, he said, be readily overlooked, especially if hatching takes place in the night. In the letter accompanying the specimens I have Mr. Anderton wrote that the stage with setae-bearing antennae could not be found after an hour or more.

The naupliosoma is a much more advanced stage than the nauplius, though it resembles it in the possession of large biramose and setose antennae, and a median eye-spot. In it the mouth parts are all well developed, except the 1st maxillipedes, which are rudimentary; there is a distinct thorax, bearing 3 pairs of biramose walking-legs, and a short, indefinitely segmented abdomen is also present.

The cephalic region is rounded, and is nearly as deep from above downwards as it is long and broad; it is rendered opaque by the presence of yolk-granules.

The antennules, of normal length, project between the eyes. The antennae are large, consisting of a fairly long basal portion, bearing a protuberance posteriorly at the point of origin; they divide without visible segmentation into a longer exopod, bearing 7 setose processes, and a shorter endopod, with only 2 processes; 2 spines project into the two processes which arise at the tip of both endopod and exopod.

[Footnote] * In the proceedings of the Lannean Society's meeting of the 2nd March, 1916, there is an abstract of a paper by Dr. Gilchrist on “Larval and Post-larval Stages of Jasus lalandii” Dr. Gilchrist is now of the opinion that the term naupliosoma, which he applied to the first stage was rather inappropriate, “since it tends to obscure the reasonable presumption that the nauplius stage has ‘been passed long before in the development of the embryo’” The interesting and important information given in Dr Gilchrist's paper will no doubt be soon available in complete form in the publications of the Linnean Society.

[Footnote] † Since the above was written my attention has been called to a description of this stage by G. M. Thomson (Trans. N. Z. Inst., vol 39, 1907, p 484, pl. 20). In the same place the above author has also described the phyllosoma, and gave a drawing of this second stage.

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Archey.—The Marine Crayfish of New Zealand.

The mandibles (Fig. 2) appear to have 2 segments, and are short and broad; they are provided at the inner end with a pad of spines and a 3-toothed process

The 1st maxillae are biramose, but unsegmented, and each ramus bears a couple of deeply set spines. The 2nd maxillae are separated from the other mouth parts and from each other; they are long, almost straight processes, with the convex inner margin bearing a spine, and with 3 deeply set spines at the end.

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Fig. 1.—Nauphosoma larva of Jasus lalandii (M.-Edw.). × 26.
Fig. 2.—Mandible of naupliosoma larva.

The 1st maxillipedes are rudimentary, but there is a distinct segment in this region. The 2nd and 3rd maxillipedes are similar in shape, but the 3rd are much the larger; they have 5 segments, with spines at the end of the last.

The 1st and 2nd peraeopods are broader and stronger than the 3rd maxillipedes, and do not, as yet, bear setae, the swimming being performed, as before mentioned, by the setae on the antennae. The 3rd peraeopod differs from the others by having only a rudimentary exopod; the 4th p raeopod is rudmentary, and the 5th is not developed at all. In the figure the peraeopods are shown extended, whereas in life they are carried closely folded under the thorax.

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(b.) The Phyllosoma (Fig 3).

This stage has been known for some time, and need not be fully described here, so only the chief points wherein it differs from the naupliosoma will be mentioned. The antennae have become segmented, but have lost their setae, although they are still biramose, and have spines at the tips of each branch. The mouth parts are the same as in the preceding

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Fig. 3.—Phyllosoma larva of Jasus lalandii (M.-Edw.). × 23.

stage, except that the spines now project freely beyond the ends. The first three pairs of peiaeopods are now completely unfolded, and the exopods of the first two pairs bear long swimming-setae. The exopods of the 3rd pair are rudimentary, as in the naupliosoma. The thorax and abdomen are longer, and 6 segments can be seen indistinctly in the latter. There is still a median eye. I have specimens of the phyllosoma sixteen days old, but there is no sensible difference between them and the ones just described Mr Anderton stated in his letter that he had not detected a moult up to this stage.

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Archey.—The Marine Crayfish of New Zealand.

(c.) The Puerulus.

The puerulus is, at first sight, simply a small adult, and, indeed, some of these larval forms have been described as species of a genus Puerulus Ortmann (1897, p. 290, footnote). Dr. Calman (1909, p. 441) is of the opinion that this genus is a perfectly valid one, the species of which are really quite distinct from the puerulus larva. The characters which can be recognized as larval characters are the presence of vestiges of exopods on the thoracic limbs, the absence of the cervical groove, the separation of the 3rd maxillipedes at their base, the carapace having few spines and having lateral ridges giving it a prismatic instead of a cylindrical form. More important is the presence, at the end of the appendix interna of the pleopods, of small coupling-hooks, which enable the pleopods to be joined together in pairs, and thus to make efficient swimming-organs.

The specimens which I have are undoubtedly pueruli, those from Stewart Island being 30 mm. in length, and that from Cuvier Island 20 mm. There are certain differences between the Cuvier Island specimens and those from Stewart Island, such as leave no doubt in my mind that the Stewart Island forms are pueruli of Jasus lalandii, while the Cuvier Island puerulus is the larva of J hugelii. For instance, the rostra show exactly the differences which have been set down above in the key to the species, that of the Cuvier Island puerulus being as large as the supra-orbital spines, and projecting straight forward, while the larvae from Stewart Island have a small rostrum, bent down towards the antennules and slightly turned up at the tip. Certain details of the spinulation of the telson mark further differences, the large spines in the Stewart Island larvae being placed exactly as in the adult J. lalandii, while in the Cuvier Island larvae there is a distinctly different pattern, which, though not arranged exactly as in the adult J. hügelii, certainly tends towards that arrangement.

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Fig. 4.—Puerulus of Jasus lalandii (M.-Edw.), Stewart Island. × 3.

Puerulus of Jasus lalandii (M.-Edw.) (Fig. 4).

Carapace with lateral ridges giving it a somewhat prismatic form, wider posteriorly than anteriorly; spines very few, but, where present, distinct. Cervical groove very indistinct; supra-orbital spines large, projecting upwards

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and outwards, with a very small spine immediately at their bases; post-orbital spines smaller than supra-orbital, and each with a still smaller spine behind.

The rostrum is small, and is bent down towards the antennular peduncle, which it does not reach, however, and is slightly upturned at the tip. The clasping processes are not visible.

The abdominal pleura end in a point projecting, downwards and backwards, and have a smaller tooth projecting from the posterior border.

The pattern of the spines on the telson (Fig 5) is as follows. Behind the anterior border of the telson there is a submedian pair of large spines,

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Fig. 5.—Telson of puerulus of Jasus lalandii, showing the arrangement of the spines × 9
Fig. 6.—Pleopod of puerulus of Jasus lalandii a i, appendix interna.
Fig. 6a.—Appendix interna of pleopod of puerulus of Jasus lalandii (M.-Edw.), showing coupling-hooks (c)

behind which is a double median row of small spines running back to near the posterior end. Behind the first pair, and wider set, is a second pair, these being followed by a third pair. The edges of the telson and uropods are deeply serrated

The pleopods (figs 6, 6a) have an appendix interna armed at the tip with small, strongly curved coupling-hooks

The 3rd maxillipedes are sparated at the base, the antennal peduncle is longer than the peduncle of the antennules. There is no trace of thoracic exopods.

The colour in alcohol is creamy white.

Length, 30 mm

Locality.—Stewart Island

Puerulus of Jasus hügelii (Heller) (Fig 7)

This larva is smaller than the preceding, being only 20 mm long The carapace is of the same shape as that of the Stewart Island pureuli, except that it has stronger lateral angles, and has only supra-orbital and post-orbital spines; the fairly large rostrum projects straight to the front.

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The abdominal pleura end in a strong, backwardly and downwardly projecting spine, and have one tooth on the posterior border.

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[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Fig. 7.—Puerulus of Jasus hugeln (Heller), Cuvier Island. × 9/2.

The spines on the telson (Fig. 8) have the following arrangement: There are 2 strong submedian spines behind the anterior border, behind them is a row of 8 spines stretching across the telson, with the inner teeth slightly in advance of the outer their outer neighbours, giving the line a very broad arrow-head shape. There is no sign of a double narrow median row, as in the puerulus of J. lalandn. Other larval characters, such as the coupling - hooks on the pleopods, the separation of the mandibles at the base, and the short antennular peduncle, are as in the puerulus of J. lalandii. There are no thoracic exopods visible.

Length, 20 mm.

Locality.—Stewart Island.

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Fig. 8.—Telson of puerulus of Jasushugelii (Heller), showing arrangement of the spines. × 12.


1861. Heller, C. Sitzungsb. der Wemer Akad. der Wissenschaften, Bd. 45, S. 393

1868. Heller, C. Reise der “Novara,” Crustacea, pp. 96–99, pl. vii.

1875. Hutton, F. W. “Descriptions of Two New Species of Crustacea from New Zealand.” Trans. N Z Inst., vol. 7, pp. 279–80.

1876. Miers, E. J. “Catalogue of the Stalk- and Sessile—eyed Crustacea of New Zealand,” p. 74.

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1880. Kirk, T. W “Description of a New Species of Palinurus.” Trans, N.Z. Inst., vol. 12, pp. 313–14, pl. xi.

1882. Haswell, W. A. “Catalogue of the Australian Stalk- and Sessile-eyed Crustacea,” pp. 171–72.

1883. Parker, T. J. “On the Structure of the Head in ‘Palinurus,’ with Special Reference to the Classification of the Genus” Nature, vol. 29, pp. 189–90.

1884. Parker, T. J. “On the Structure of the Head in ‘Palinurus,’ with Special Reference to the Classification of the Genus.” Trans N Z Inst., vol. 16, pp. 297–307, pl xxv.

1887. Parker, T. J. “Remarks on Palinurus lalandii M.-Edw and P. edwardsii Hutton” Trans N Z Inst., vol 19, pp. 150–55, pl. x, figs. 1–14.

1887. McCoy, F. “Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria,” dec xv, vol. 2, preface, p 193, pl 149, 150

1888. McCoy, F. “Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria,” dec xvi, preface, pp. 221–23, pl. 159.

1888. Bate, C. Spence “Challenger' Reports, Crustacea Macrura, vol. xxiv, pp. 85–88, pl xi, figs 1, 1q, pl., pl. xii, figs. 1, 1H, li.

1891. Ortmann, A. E Zool Jahrb, vol 6, pp 14, 16

1893. Stebbing, T R. R “A History of the Crustacea,” pp. 196–97

1897. Ortmann, A. E “On a New Species of the Palinurid-genus Linuparis found in the Upper Cretaceous of Dakota” Amer Journ. Sci. (4), vol. 4, p 290, footnote

1902. Stebbing, T R R “Marine Investigations in South Africa, Crustacea,” pt. n, pp 38–40, pl vii

1909 Calman, W T “The Genus Puerulus Ortmann, and the Post-larval Development of the Spiny Lobsters (Palmuridae)” Ann Mag. Nat. Hist (8), vol. 3, p. 441

1911. Chilton, C “Scientific Results of the New Zealand Government Trawling Expedition, 1907: Crustacea” “Records of the Canterbury Museum,” vol 1, p. 303

1911A. Chilton, C ‘The Crustacea of the Kermadec Islands.” Trans. N.Z. Inst, vol 43, pp 544–73

1913. Gilchrist, J. D F “A Free-swimming Nauphoid Stage in Pahnurus.” Journal of the Lmnean Soc., vol 32, pp 225–31