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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Dactylopterus volitans Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: front part of body almost square in cross-section, tapering posteriorly. Head large, blunt, bony, with a long pre-opercular spine tapering back beyond gill opening; eye fairly large, mouth low, lower jaw fitting into upper. Two dorsal fins, the first with 2 free spines and 4 spines connected by a membrane, the second with 1 spine and 8 soft finrays; pectoral fins enormous, spreading like wings, the first 6 finrays separated and shorter; pelvic fins below pectoral base; anal fin short, with 6 finrays. Body covered with hard, almost scute-like scales, with a ridge on either side of caudal peduncle; about 60-62 scales in longitudinal series. Colour: orange-brown to dusky, upper parts marbled, often with blue spots on back, lower parts with pink tints; pectoral fins brownish with concentric lines of pale blue spots encircled by black and darker blue spots or lines. Size: to 50 cm SL.

Habitat: benthic on mud, sand or over rocks in sandy areas, exploring bottom with the free part of the pectoral fins, at depths down to 80 m; at least one observation has shown that the sudden spreading of the colourful pectoral fins would alarm potential predators. Food: bottomliving organisms (crustaceans, etc.). Reproduction: no data.

Distribution: eastern Atlantic (southward from the English Channel, including Madeira and the Azores) and Mediterranean (but not Black Sea). Elsewhere, southward to Angola, also western Atlantic (Massachusetts to Argentina).

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Canestrini, 1861b: 45-51, pl. IV | Steindachner, 1867: pl. II (fig. 3) | Moreau, 1881,1: fig. 111 | Sanzo, 1933c: 1-26, 22 fig. (pl.) | Fowler, 1936: fig. 394 | Lozano Rey, 1952: fig. 76 (from Fowler) | Padoa, 1956b: 643-648, fig. 519-523 (from Sanzo), pl. XL (fig. 11-13) & XLI (fig. 1-2) | Bini, 1969, 7, 1 fig. col.: 186 | Aboussouan, 1970: 608, fig. 24. Fig. 109 of Weber, 1913, rep- resents a young of Dactylopena orientalis.
Otoliths (sagitta). Chaine & Duvergier, 1934: 141-147, pl. IV (3 upper rows) | Bauzá-Rullán, 1959: 93-94, pl. II (fig. 17-19) | Schmidt, 1968: 59, pl. 12 (fig. 166) & 24.

Flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans)