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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Raja (Raja) clavata Linnaeus, 1758
Diagnosis: upper surfaces always wholly prickly, even in early juveniles; underside wholly prickly in large females, only snout and margins of disc in young and large males. Orbital thorns separate, a regular row of 30-50 thorns from nape to first dorsal (number reduced in large males), 0-2 thorns between separate dorsal fins. Additional large 'buckler' thorns with swollen bases scattered on upper surface of disc in adults, also on underside (mainly in large females). Thorn pattern extremely variable. Colour: upper surface very variable, all shades of brown, variegated with dark and light spots and blotches, often marbled or producing patterns like eye-spots; plain coloured specimens recorded; tail usually with light and dark crossbars; underside white, margins of disc often grey. Size: to about 90 cm TL.

Habitat: benthic, from very shallow waters to about 300 m; common in most areas and important commercially in north-western Europe, also locally in Mediterranean. Food: all kinds of bottom animals, preference for crustaceans. Reproduction: oviparous; about 150 egg-cases laid per year, in spring (north-western Europe) or winter and spring (Mediterranean), 60-90 by 49-69 mm (excluding horns); development of embryos about 5 months (usually in inshore waters).

Distribution: Atlantic coasts from Madeira and Morocco northward to Iceland and Norway (south of Arctic Circle), as well as North Sea and western Baltic (rare), also whole Mediterranean and western part of Black Sea. Elsewhere, southward to South Africa and south-western Indian Ocean.

Complementary iconography. Clark, 1930, in Faune ichthyol. Atl. N., fiche 43 Muus & Dahlström, 1965: 53, fig. | Bini, 1967: 157-158, fig.
Eggs, embryonic and young stages. Williamson, 1913: 2, fig. 8 (egg-capsule) | Clark, 1922: 593-601, fig. 1 (egg-capsule), fig. 2-4 (young).

Thornback ray (Raja clavata)