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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Sparus aurata Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: body oblong, rather deep. Preopercle scaleless. In both jaws, in front 46 canines with behind them and at back 2 4 rows of teeth, more obtuse, gradually becoming molars, the two outer rows much stronger; total gillrakers 11-13, 7-8 lower, (4) 5-6 upper. D Xl + 13 -14; A 111 + 11-12. Lateral line scales 73-85 to caudal base. Colour: silvery grey; large dark patch at origin of lateral line, overlapping upper part of opercle and underlined by a reddish area; golden curved bar across forehead, bordered by two dark zones, especially in adults; a longitudinal black line in middle of dorsal fin; caudal black-edged distally. Size: 70 cm SL, usually 30-35 cm.

Habitat: Iittoral on sandy bottoms and Posidonia beds and in breakers, juveniles to 30 m, adults to 150 m; euryhaline, entering brackish waters. Sedentary, solitary or in small groups. Food: carnivorous (molluscs— mainly mussels, crustaceans, fishes), additionally herbivorous. Reproduction: October-December; hermaphroditic protandrous; maturity at 1 2 years (20 30 cm) for males, 2-3 years (33 40 cm) for females; do not spawn in Black Sea.

Distribution: common throughout Mediterranean, less frequent in eastern and south-eastern Mediterranean, very rare in Black Sea; Atlantic from British Isles to Cape Verde Is and the Canaries.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Lo Bianco, 1909: 707 | Bounhiol & Pron, 1916: 29 | Ranzi, 1930: 407-416; 1933: 334, pl. 22 (fig. 5-16) | Vodyanitzky & Kazanova, 1954: 266, fig. 19.
Otoliths (sagitta). Sanz Echeverrìa, 1926: 152, fig. 37; 1930: 174, fig. 6-8 | Chaine, 1937: 100-107, pl. 10-11.

Gilt-head (Sparus aurata)