Skip to main content

A freshwater crab Potamon (Brachyura: Potamidae) from the middle Miocene Lake Bugojno (Gračanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina), with notes on potamid taphonomy


The middle Miocene site of Gračanica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where limnic sediments of the former Lake Bugojno are exposed, yielded remains of a crab. The single specimen represents a freshwater brachyuran classified in the open nomenclature as Potamon sp. With an age of ~ 15 Ma, the Gračanica specimen is the oldest Potamon occurrence from southern Europe. An articulated female individual with preserved pereiopods suggests autochthonous or parautochthonous nature of the specimen. Presence of cuticular disks in the studied specimen confirms that these structures, previously identified in decayed crab specimens in actualistic taphonomic experiments, can be preserved in the fossil record. If found isolated, the disks may confirm the presence of decapods in studied assemblages and can be considered an additional tool for identification of otherwise rare freshwater crab fossils.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Bachmayer, F., & Pretzmann, G. (1971). Krebsreste aus den altpliozänen Süßwasserablagerungen des Eichkogels bei Mödling, Nieder-österreich. Annalen der Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, 75, 283–291, pl. 1.

  2. Bahuguna, S. N., Rawat Rana, A., & Singh, S. (2016). Diet composition of freshwater crab, Potamon koolooense Rathbun, 1904 from hillstrean of Uttarakhand. Journal of Applied and Natural Science, 8, 301–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Barbaresi, S., Cannicci, I., Vannini, M., & Fratini, S. (2007). Environmental correlates of two macro-decapods distribution in Central Italy: Multi-dimensional ecological knowledge as a tool for conservation of endangered species. Biological Conservation, 136, 431–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bishop, G. A. (1986). Taphonomy of the North American Decapods. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 6, 326–355.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bott, R. (1970). Die Süßwasserkrabben von Europe, Asien und Australien und ihre Stammesgeschichte. Abhandlungen der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, 526, 1–338.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Brandis, D., Storch, V., & Türkay, M. (1999). Morphology and function of the copulatory system in freshwater crabs of the genus Potamon. Journal of Morphology, 239, 157–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brandis, D., Storch, V., & Türkay, M. (2000). Taxonomy and zoogeography of the freshwater crabs of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East (Crustacea, Decapoda, Potamidae). Senckenbergiana biologica, 80, 5–56.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Briggs, D. E. G., & Kear, A. J. (1994). Decay and mineralization of shrimps. Palaios, 9, 431–456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Charmantier, G. (1992). Occurrence of fresh-water crabs, genus Potamon, in southern France. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 12, 620–626.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Compère, P., Jeuniaux, C., & Goffinet, G. (2004). The integument: morphology and biochemistry. In J. Forest, & J. C. von Vaupel Klein, (Eds.), Treatise on Zoology – The Crustacea, vol. 1. (pp. 59–144). Leiden: Brill.

  11. Dobson, M. K., Magana, A., Mathooko, J. M., & Ndegwa, F. K. (2002). Detritivores in Kenyan highland streams: more evidence for the paucity of shredders in the tropics? Freshwater Biology, 47, 909–919.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Feldmann, R. M., O’Connor, P. M., Stevens, N. J., Gottfried, M. D., Roberts, E. M., Ngasala, S., Rasmusson, E. L., & Kapilima, S. (2007). A new freshwater crab (Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamonautidae) from the Paleogene of Tanzania, Africa. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie. Abhandlungen, 244, 71–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Gherardi, F., Guidi, S., & Vannini, M. (1987). Behavioural ecology of the freshwater crabs, Potamon fluviatile: preliminary observations. Investigacion Pesquera, 51, supplement 1, 389–402.

  14. Gherardi, F., Tarducci, F., & Micheli, F. (1989). Energy maximization and foraging strategies in Potamon fluviatile. Freshwater Biology, 22, 233–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gherardi, F., Tarducci, F., & Vannini, M. (1988). Locomotor activity in the freshwater crab, Potamon fluviatile: the analysis of temporal patterns by radio-telemetry. Ethology, 77, 300–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Glaessner, M. F. (1928). Die Dekapodenfauna des österreichischen Jungtertiärs. Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundesanstalt Wien, 78, 161–219.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Glaessner, M. F. (1929). Zur Kenntnis der Häutung bei fossilen Krebsen. Palaeobiologica, 2, 46–57.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Glaessner, M. F. (1930). Dekapodenstudien. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie, und Paläontologie, (Beilage), 63(B), 137–176.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Guinot, D. (1977). Propositions pour une nouvelle classification des Crustacés Décapodes Brachyoures. Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l’Académie des Sciences, Paris, (D), 285, 1049–1052.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Harzhauser, M., Mandic, O., Nordsieck, H., & Neubauer, T.A. (in press). A new Helicidae (Gastropoda) from the Middle Miocene of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a revision of the genus Paradrobacia. In U.B. Göhlich & O. Mandic (Eds.) The drowning swamp of Gračanica (Bosnia-Herzegovina) - a diversity hotspot from the middle Miocene in the Bugojno Basin. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 99. [this issue]

  21. Hof, C. H. J., & Briggs, D. E. G. (1997). Decay and mineralization of mantis shrimps (Stomatopoda: Crustacea) – A key to their fossil record. Palaios, 12, 420–438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Horwitz, L. K., & Ashkenazi, S. (2006). The fauna. In Y. Garfinkel, & D. Dag, (Eds.), Gesher – A pre-pottery neolithic site in the Central Jordan Valley, Israel (pp. 159–173). Berlin: Ex oriente.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Hyžný, M. (2016). Diversity and distribution of the Oligocene and Miocene decapod crustaceans (Crustacea: Malacostraca) of the Western and Central Paratethys. Geologica Carpathica, 67, 471–494.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hyžný, M., & Gross, M. (2016). From the palaeontological collection of the Universalmuseum Joanneum – The Cenozoic Decapod Crustaceans (Crustacea: Malacostraca: Decapoda). Joannea Geologie und Paläontologie, 12, 73–127.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Jesse, R., Grudinski, M., Klaus, S., Streit, B., & Pfenninger, M. (2011). Evolution of freshwater crab diversity in the Aegean region (Crustacea: Brachyura: Potamidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 59, 23–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Jesse, R., Pfenninger, M., Fratini, S., Scalici, M., Streit, B., & Schubart, C. D. (2009). Disjunct distribution of the Mediterranean freshwater crab Potamon fluviatile–natural expansion or human introduction? Biological Invasions, 11, 2209–2221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Klaus, S., & Gross, M. (2010). Synopsis of the fossil freshwater crabs of Europe (Brachyura: Potamoidea: Potamidae). Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen, 256, 39–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Klaus, S., Magalhães, C., Salas-Gismondi, R., Gross, M., & Antoine, P.-O. (2017a). Palaeogene and Neogene brachyurans of the Amazon Basin: a revised first appearance date for primary freshwater crabs (Brachyura, Trichodactylidae). Crustaceana, 90, 953–967.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Klaus, S., & Prieto, J. (2014). New occurrence of Miocene freshwater crabs (Brachyura, Potamidae) in the North Alpine Foreland Basin, Germany, with a note on fossil Potamon to calibrate molecular clocks. In D. C. J. Yeo, N. Cumberlidge, & S. Klaus (Eds.), Advances in freshwater decapod systematics and biology. Crustaceana Monographs, 19, 161–172.

  30. Klaus, S., Singh, B., Hartmann, L., Krishan, K., Ghosh, A., & Patnaik, R. (2017b). A fossil freshwater crab from the Pliocene Tatrot Formation (Siwalik Group) in Northern India (Crustacea, Brachyura, Potamidae). Palaeoworld, 26, 566–571.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Klaus, S., Yeo, D. C. J., & Ahyong, S. T. (2011). Freshwater crab origins – Laying Gondwana to rest. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 250, 449–456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Klompmaker, A. A., Portell, R. W., & Frick, M. G. (2017). Comparative experimental taphonomy of eight marine arthropods indicates distinct differences in preservation potential. Palaeontology, 60, 773–794.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Krause, R. A., Jr., Parsons-Hubbard, K., & Walker, S. E. (2011). Experimental taphonomy of a decapod crustacean: Long-term data and their implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 312, 350–362.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Latreille, P.A. (1802–1803). Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des Crustacés et des Insectes. Ouvrage faisant suite à l’histoire naturelle générale et particulière, composée par Leclerc de Buffon, et rédigée par C.S. Sonnini, membre de plusieurs sociétés savantes. Familles naturelles des genres.Volume 3. Paris: Dufart, F.

  35. Mandic, O., Vranjkovic, A., Pavelic, D., Hrvatovic, H., De Leeuw, A. (2012). Miocene intra-montane lacustrine basins of Outer Dinarides (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina). In I. Vlahovic, O. Mandic, E. Mrinjek, S. Bergant, V. Cosovic, A. De Leeuw, P. Enos, H. Hrvatovic, D. Maticec, G. Miksa, W. Nemec, D. Pavelic, V. Pencinger, I. Velic, & A. Vranjkovic (Eds.) Marine to continental depositional systems of Outer Dinarides foreland and intra-montane basins (Eocene-Miocene, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Field Trip Guide, 29th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology, Schladming/Austria. Journal of Alpine Geology, 54, 456–470.

  36. Mandic, O., Göhlich, U.B., Krijgsman, W., de Leeuw, A., & Hrvatović, H. (2016). Lake Bugojno – three lacustrine cycles. In Mandic, O., Pavelić, D., Kovačić, M., Sant, K., Andrić, N., & Hrvatović, H. (Eds.) Field Trip Guide-book. Lake - Basin - Evolution, RCMNS Interim Colloquium 2016 & Croatian Geological Society Limnogeology Workshop, 19-24 May 2016, Zagreb, Croatia (pp. 64–68). Zagreb: Hrvatsko geološko društvo / Croatian Geological Society.

  37. Maurakis, E. G., Grimes, D. V., Mcgovern, L., & Hogarth, P. J. (2004). The occurrence of Potamon species (Decapoda, Brachyura) relative to lotic stream factors in Greece. Biologia, 59, 173–179.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Meyer, H. von (1844). Zur Fauna der Vorwelt: fossile Säugethiere, Vögel und Reptilien von Öningen; über eine allgemeine Übersicht der fossilen Wirbelthiere; Lagomys, Chelydra, Coluber oweni u. a. Arten, Grapsus speciosus, Homelys major und minor und Vogel-Reste von Öningen. – Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Geologie und Petrefakten-Kunde, 3, 330–331.

  39. Meyer, H. von (1862). Tertiäre Decapoden aus den Alpen, von Öningen und dem Taunus. Palaeontographica, 10, 147–178.

  40. Mutel, M. H. E., Waugh, D. A., Feldmann, R. M., & Parsons-Hubbard, K. M. (2008). Experimental taphonomy of Callinectes sapidus and cuticular controls on preservation. Palaios, 23, 615–623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Ng, P. K. L. (2004). Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura. In C. Yule & H. S. Yong (Eds.), Freshwater Invertebrates of the Malaysian Region (pp. 311–336). Kuala Lumpur: Malysian Academy of Sciences.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Ng, P. K. L., & Cranbrook, Earl of (2014). Fossil brachyuran crabs from the Jambusan Caves (Bau, Sarawak), collected by A.H. Everett in 1878–1879. In R. H. B. Fraaije, M. Hyžný, J. W. M. Jagt,  M. Krobicki, & B. W. M. van Bakel, (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Mesozoic and Cenozoic Decapod Crustaceans, Krakow, Poland, 2013: A tribute to Pál Mihály Müller. Scripta Geologica, 147, 289–307.

  43. Ortmann, A. (1896). Das System der Decapoden-Krebse. Zoologische Jahrbücher, Abtheilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Thiere, 9, 409–453.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Plotnick, R., Baumiller, T., & Wetmore, K. L. (1988). Fossilization potential of the mud crab, Panopeus (Brachyura: Xanthidae) and temporal variability in crustacean taphonomy. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 63, 27–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Pretzmann, G. (1962). Die mediterranen und vorderasiatischen Süßwasserkrabben (Potamoniden). Annalen der Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, 65, 205–240.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Pretzmann, G. (1971). Scheren und Scherenbezahnung die Potamon (Crustacea Decapoda). Annalen der Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, 75, 489–493.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Pretzmann, G. (1972). Some fossil chelae of river crabs and the distribution of Potamon in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia. Thalassia Jugoslavica, 8, 71–73.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Savigny, J. C. (1816). Mémoires sur les animaux sans vèrtebres: Première Partie: Description et classification des animaux invertébrés et articulés, connus sous les noms de Crustacés, d’Insectes, d’Annélides, etc. Paris: G. Dufour, Paris.

  49. Schäfer, W. (1972). Ecology and paleoecology of marine environments, I. Oertel (trans.), G. Y. Craig  (Ed.). Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press.

  50. Szombathy, K. (1916). A Potamon (Telphusa)-nem harmadkori alakjai és palearktikus utódaik. Die tertiären Formen der Gattung Potamon (Telphusa) und ihre paläarktischen Nachkommen. Annales historico-naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici, Budapest, 14, 381–421. [in Hungarian with German summary].

  51. Wessels, W., Bruijn, H. de, Marković, Z., & Milivojević, M. (in press). Small mammals from the opencast lignite mine Gračanica (Bugojno, middle Miocene), Bosnia and Herzegovina. In U.B. Göhlich & O. Mandic (Eds .) The drowning swamp of Gračanica (Bosnia-Herzegovina) - a diversity hotspot from the middle Miocene in the Bugojno Basin. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 99. [this issue]

  52. Yeo, D. C. J., & Ng, P. K. L. (2004). Recognition of two subfamilies in the Potamidae Ortmann, 1896 (Brachyura, Potamidae) with a note on the genus Potamon Savigny, 1816. Crustaceana, 76, 1219–1235.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Yeo, D. C. J., & Ng, P. K. L. (2007). On the genus “Potamon” and allies in Indochina (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamidae). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 16, 273–308.

  54. Yeo, D. C. J., Ng, P. K. L., Cumberlidge, N., Magalhães, D., & S. R., & Campos, M. R. (2008). Global diversity of crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia, 595, 275–286.

  55. Zittel, K. A. (1885). Handbuch der Paläontologie. Band I, Abt. 2: Paläozoologie; München & Leipzig: Oldenbourg.

Download references


Ursula Göhlich (Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria) is thanked for invitation to participate on processing the Gračanica fossil assemblage. Davit Vasilyan (JURASSICA Museum, Porrentruy, Switzerland) kindly loaned the crab fossil and supplied further information on the specimen. The manuscript benefited from critical reviews of Rodney M. Feldmann (Kent State University, Ohio), Sebastian Klaus (J.W. Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) and Peter K.L. Ng (Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, and National University of Singapore, Singapore) and editorial remarks of Oleg Mandic (Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria).


This study was self-funded.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matúš Hyžný.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

The drowning swamp of Gračanica (Bosnia-Herzegovina) - a diversity hotspot from the middle Miocene in the Bugojno Basin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hyžný, M. A freshwater crab Potamon (Brachyura: Potamidae) from the middle Miocene Lake Bugojno (Gračanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina), with notes on potamid taphonomy. Palaeobio Palaeoenv 100, 577–583 (2020).

Download citation


  • Cuticle preservation
  • Decapoda
  • Fossil
  • Langhian
  • Limnic environment