Slender spider crab (Macropodia tenuirostris)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Macropodia tenuirostris is reddish brown in colour and has a triangular shaped shell (carapace) that is very narrow at the frontal region. The length of the carapace is around 3.2 cm and the breadth around 1.1 cm. The surface of the carapace has a smooth to slightly granular texture. The snout (rostrum) is thick, very long and is deflected slightly upwards, with numerous prominent hook-setae (hair like structures). The eyestalks are totally visible from above. Second to fifth pairs of limbs (pereopods) are very thin. The fourth segment (from the tip) of the first walking leg is as long as or longer than the combined length of the carapace and the rostrum. The tip of the second leg is the same length as the carapace. The fourth and fifth legs have moderately curved tips (dactylus). Male chelipeds are large and inflated whereas female chelipeds are slender.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common around the British Isles.

Global distribution

Recorded from Faeroes Bank southwards to Portugal.


Macropodia tenuirostris has been recorded in depths from about 9 m to 97 m on muddy to hard substrata, in estuaries, and also on colonies of Sertularella spp. at depths down to 300 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Triangular shaped carapace.
  • Reddish brown in colour.
  • Rostrum thick and very long, deflected slightly upwards.
  • Second to fifth pair of legs very long and slender.

Additional information

The arrangement of spines on the upper surface are diagnostic of species of Macropodia (see Ingle 1980 & 1996 for further details).

Listed by

- none -


  1. Bradshaw, C., Veale, L.O., Hill, A.S. & Brand, A.R., 2002. The role of scallop-dredge disturbance in long-term changes in Irish Sea benthic communities: a re-analysis of an historical dataset. Journal of Sea Research, 47, 161-184. DOI

  2. Crothers, J. & Crothers, M., 1988. A key to the crabs and crab-like animals of British inshore waters. Somerset, England: Field Studies Council. [AIDGAP guide, no. 155.]

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. Ingle, R.W., 1980. British Crabs. Oxford: British Museum (Natural History), Oxford University Press.

  6. Ingle, R.W., 1996. Shallow-water Crabs, (2nd edn). Shrewsbury: Field Studies Council. [Synopses of the British Fauna, no 25]

  7. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  8. Salman, S.D., 1981. Larval development of Macropodia tenuirostris (Leach) (Crustacea, Brachyura, Majidae), reared in the laboratory. Journal of Natural History, 15, 931-938.

  9. Van Noort, G.J. & Adema, J.P.H.M., 1985. The genus Macropodia Leach, 1814 in the North Sea and adjacent waters, with the description of a new species. Zoologische Mededelingen, 59, 363-379.


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. IBIS Project Data. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust Shoresearch Intertidal Survey 2004 onwards. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  3. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  4. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-04-21


This review can be cited as:

Edwards, R.V. 2005. Macropodia tenuirostris Slender spider crab. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-04-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 16/11/2005