A spider crab stands on top of a reef

Crabs, lobsters and shrimp

The Decapoda is an order of crustaceans which contains all the familiar species such as hermit crabs, lobsters and prawns. All the members of the group have ten legs, hence the scientific name (deca = ten, pod = foot). In many species the front pair of legs has a set of pincers on the end.

Scientific name: Decapoda

Rank: Order

Common names:

  • Decapod crustaceans,
  • Decapoda,
  • Decapods

Watch video clips from past programmes (4 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


The Crabs, lobsters and shrimp can be found in a number of locations including: Great Barrier Reef. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Fossil types

Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.

Exceptional preservation Exceptional preservation
Normally, only the hard parts of animals and plants - shell, bone, teeth and wood - are preserved as fossils. However, every now and then conditions permit the preservation of soft parts and create treasure houses of information for palaeontologists.


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Arthropods
  4. Crabs, shrimp and krill
  5. Crabs, lobsters and shrimp

BBC News about Crabs, lobsters and shrimp