Pleocyemata is a suborder of decapod crustaceans, erected by Martin Burkenroad in 1963.[1] Burkenroad's classification replaced the earlier sub-orders of Natantia and Reptantia with the monophyletic groups Dendrobranchiata (prawns) and Pleocyemata. Pleocyemata contains all the members of the Reptantia (including crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and others), as well as the Stenopodidea (which contains the so-called "boxer shrimp" or "barber-pole shrimp"), and Caridea, which contains the true shrimp.

Temporal range: Devonian–recent
Ovigerous female Potamon fluviatile with the pleon held open to show the eggs held on the pleopods
Ovigerous female Potamon fluviatile with the pleon held open to show the eggs held on the pleopods
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Pleocyemata
Burkenroad, 1963


All members of the Pleocyemata are united by a number of features, the most important of which is that the fertilised eggs are incubated by the female, and remain stuck to the pleopods (swimming legs) until the zoea larvae are ready to hatch. It is this characteristic that gives the group its name. Pleocyemata also possess a lamellar gill structure as opposed to the branched found in the Dendrobranchiata.


The cladogram below shows Pleocyemata as the sister clade to Dendrobranchiata within the larger order Decapoda, from analysis by Wolfe et al., 2019.[2]


Dendrobranchiata (prawns)  


Stenopodidea (boxer shrimp)  


Caridea (true shrimp)  

Reptantia (crawling/walking decapods)

Achelata (spiny lobsters, slipper lobsters)  

Polychelida (benthic crustaceans)

Astacidea (lobsters, crayfish)  

Axiidea (mud shrimp, ghost shrimp, or burrowing shrimp)

Gebiidea (mud lobsters and mud shrimp)

Anomura (hermit crabs and others)  

Brachyura (crabs)  

Pleocyemata comprises the following infraorders:[3]

The earliest fossil representative is the Devonian Palaeopalaemon.[4]


  1. ^ Burkenroad, M. D. (1963). "The evolution of the Eucarida (Crustacea, Eumalacostraca), in relation to the fossil record". Tulane Studies in Geology. 2 (1): 1–17.
  2. ^ Wolfe, Joanna M.; Breinholt, Jesse W.; Crandall, Keith A.; Lemmon, Alan R.; Lemmon, Emily Moriarty; Timm, Laura E.; Siddall, Mark E.; Bracken-Grissom, Heather D. (24 April 2019). "A phylogenomic framework, evolutionary timeline and genomic resources for comparative studies of decapod crustaceans". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 286 (1901). doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.0079. PMID 31014217.
  3. ^ Sammy De Grave; N. Dean Pentcheff; Shane T. Ahyong; et al. (2009). "A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans" (PDF). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Suppl. 21: 1–109.
  4. ^ Robert P. D. Crean (November 14, 2004). "Order Decapoda: Fossil record and evolution". University of Bristol. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2010.

External linksEdit