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(Fabricius, 1787)

Diagnosis:
Propodus of first pereiopod of male with an anterodorsal spine. Abdominal somites with a single distinct transverse groove. Legs longitudinally streaked with brown and yellowish. Colour dark brown or purple; abdominal somites two to five each with a distinct pair of large white spots, somite six with a single posteromedian white spot.

Type:
Type locality of Astacus elephas Fabricius, 1787 (and Palinurus quadricornis Fabricius, 1798): the original statement of the type locality "Habitat in Americae meridionalis Insulis" is erroneous. As shown in Fabricius' description of the large supraorbital horns as dentate, and by his reference to Herbst's (1792: 2 (2): pl.29 fig. 1), his specimen was the common European spiny lobster (in 1787 Fabricius referred to the then still unpublished figure by Herbst). Herbst gives as the locality of his material: 'im Mittelländischen Meer" and elaborates: "In Italien wird er häufig gegessen und auf den Markten verkauft". We may therefore correct the type locality to "Italy". A syntype, originally preserved dry, but recently transferred to alcohol is kept in UZM, condition reasonable. A second dry syntype is in ZMB, no.19649, condition good; this is the specimen figured by Herbst, 1792.
Type locality of Cancer locusta Wulfen: near Rovinj, Yugoslavia. The type was bought at the fish market of Trieste, Italy (for 2 florins) from a fisherman from Rovinj: "Non aliter, quam duorum florenorum pretio hunc mihi Tergestino in foro Cancrumpiscator vendidit Rovignensis" (Wulfen, 1791: 314); its present whereabouts unknown.
Type locality of Palinurus vulgaris Latreille: "dans l'Ocean Asiatique et dans la Mediterranée". Types in MP no longer extant (not located in 1989).
Type locality of Palinurus marinus Bate, 1868. The name "marinus" probably is a lapsus for "vulgaris", but if the specific names is considered to be new, the type locality of the species is the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, U.K. "mostly between Bigbury Bay [Devon] toward the east, and the Dodman [Cornwall) toward the west"; whereabouts of type material unknown.
Type locality of Pagurus maculatus Bowdich: Madeira.Types probably no longer extant.

Geographical Distribution:
Eastern Atlantic, from southwestern Norway to Morocco, also in the Mediterranean, except the extreme eastern and south eastern parts.

Habitat and Biology:
On rocky bottoms, rarely on sand, in depths from 5 to 160 m, mostly between 10 and 70 m. Ovigerous females from September-October to February-March.

Size:
Maximum total body length 50 cm, but usually not larger than 40 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
The species is mostly caught with lobster pots, occasionally on hook-and-line and by spearing, rarely with trawls, tangles, or trammel nets. Longhurst (1970: 260) reported the catching of this species "by full-time SCUBA divers off southwest England". In the central and western Mediterranean the species is regularly found at fishmarkets, and in the eastern Atlantic, outside the Mediterranean, it is fished on a minor scale in England, and more intensively in France and Portugal. No catch statisics are known but probably the catches of Palinurus spp. reported in the FAO Yearbook of Fisheries Statistics correspond partly to P. elephas and partly to P. mauritanicus (4921 tons in 1987and 7869 tons in 1988).

Common spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas)