The Parastacidae are the family of freshwater crayfish found in the Southern Hemisphere. The family is a classic Gondwana-distributed taxon, with extant members in South America, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, and extinct taxa also in Antarctica.

Temporal range: Albian–recent
Cherax pulcher 42998.jpg
Cherax pulcher
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Superfamily: Parastacoidea
Huxley, 1879
Family: Parastacidae
Huxley, 1879 [1]


The natural range of the family Parastacidae [2]

Three genera are found in Chile, Virilastacus, Samastacus and Parastacus, the last of which also occurs disjunctly in southern Brazil and Uruguay.

There are no crayfish native to continental Africa, but seven species on Madagascar, all of the genus Astacoides.[3]

Australasia is particularly rich in crayfish. The small genus Paranephrops is endemic to New Zealand. Two genera, Astacopsis and Parastacoides are endemic to Tasmania, while a further two are found on either side of the Bass StraitGeocharax and Engaeus. The greatest diversity, however, is found on the Australian mainland. Three genera are endemic and have restricted distributions (Engaewa, Gramastacus and Tenuibranchiurus), while two are more widespread and contain more than one hundred species between them: Euastacus, around the Australian coast from Melbourne to Brisbane, and Cherax across Australia and New Guinea.

Fossil recordEdit

The oldest specimens from the family Parastacidae are the Albian fossils of Palaeoechinastacus from Victoria, Australia.[4] The only northern hemisphere representative is also a fossil, Aenigmastacus crandalli from Canada.[5]


  1. ^ T. H. Huxley (1879). The Crayfish: an Introduction to the Study of Zoology. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co.
  2. ^ J. W. Fetzner, Jr (2005). "The crayfish and lobster taxonomy browser: a global taxonomic resource for freshwater crayfish and their closest relatives". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2006.
  3. ^ Christopher B. Boyko; Olga Ramilijaona Ravoahangimalala; Désiré Randriamasimanana; Tony Harilala Razafindrazaka (2005). "Astacoides hobbsi, a new crayfish (Crustacea: Decapoda: Parastacidae) from Madagascar" (PDF). Zootaxa. 1091: 41–51. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1091.1.3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  4. ^ Anthony J. Martin; Thomas H. Rich; Gary C. B. Poore; Mark B. Schultz; Christopher M. Austin; Lesley Kool; Patricia Vickers-Rich (2008). "Fossil evidence in Australia for oldest known freshwater crayfish of Gondwana" (PDF). Gondwana Research. 14 (3): 287–296. doi:10.1016/ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  5. ^ Rodney A. Feldmann, Carrie E. Schweitzer & John Leahy (2011). "New Eocene crayfish from the McAbee Beds in British Columbia: First record of Parastacoidea in the Northern Hemisphere". Journal of Crustacean Biology. 31 (2): 320–331. doi:10.1651/10-3399.1.

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