Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
- Suborder Psettodoidei
- Suborder Pleuronectoidei
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A very distinctive order of actinopterygian fishes, also known as the Heterosomata or commonly the flatfishes, which in turn are known by a variety of common names: halibut, turbots, plaice, flounders, soles, tonguefishes, and others. All adults are characterized by a flattened (laterally compressed) body with both eyes located on the same side of the head. Larval flatfishes are bilaterally symmetrical, but early in development one eye migrates across the top of the head to the other side. The asymmetry is reflected in complex modifications of the skull bones and associated muscles and nerves, as well as dentition, squamation (arrangement of scales), visceral anatomy, and paired fins. A given family is usually either dextral (eyes on the right side) or sinistral (eyes on the left side); however, some families have both dextral and sinistral members even at the species level. Flatfishes are further characterized by pigmented upper side; blind side usually lacking pigment; cycloid or ctenoid scales; tubercles in some species; long-based dorsal and anal fins, with the dorsal fin base extending to or beyond the eyes (except in the family Psettodidae); body cavity quite reduced in size; usually six or seven branchiostegal (gill bone) rays; and a swim bladder in adults of only a few species. See also: Actinopterygii; Animal symmetry; Swim bladder
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