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Author: Donovan, 1808

Microchirus variegatus Donovan, 1808

Diagnosis: body oval. Upper eye less than its own diameter from dorsal profile of head. Anterior nostril on blind side not enlarged, its distance from front margin of head about twice in its distance from cleft of mouth; anterior nostril on eyed side with a backward-pointing tube reaching to front border of lower eye. Dorsal fin beginning at vertical through front border of upper eye, with 63-80 finrays; pectoral fin on eyed side small, with 2-5 finrays, on blind side reduced with 1-4 finrays anal finrays 47-64; caudal fin separate from last dorsai and anal finrays. Lateral line with 65-98 pored scales, the supra-temporal branch not distinct, forming an S-shape; scales rectangular or more or less square, the intercanalicular striae of Dicologoglossa type. Vertebrae 36-40. Colour: eyed side brownish-grey to brownish-red, with broad dark cross-bands ending in conspicuous blotches on dorsal and anal fins. Size: to 20 cm SL.

Habitat: benthic on sand and mud of continental shelf and slope, at depths of 80-400 m. Food: a wide range of small bottom-living organisms, mainly crustaceans (amphipods, shrimps), also polychaete worms and bivalve molluscs. Reproduction: spawns early March to early summer (in English Channel), late winter and spring to early autumn (Ireland).

Distribution: eastern Atlantic (southward from north of British Isles) and Mediterranean (including Adriatic). Until coast of Senegal; M. variegatus is often confused with M. wittei Chabanaud, 1950.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Cunningham, 1890: 90, pl. 16 (fig. 6), pl. 17 (fig. 1-2) | Petersen, 1909: 13, pl. 2 (fig. 35-37) | Clark, 1920: 197-202, fig. 3-5.
Otoliths (sagitta). Frost, 1930: 237, pl. 9 (fig. 22) | Chaine, 1936: 185, pl. 12 | Bauzá Rullán, 1956: 123, pl. 8 (fig. 20-30).

Thickback sole (Microchirus variegatus)