AskDefine | Define flatfish

Dictionary Definition



1 sweet lean whitish flesh of any of numerous thin-bodied fish; usually served as thin fillets
2 any of several families of fishes having flattened bodies that swim along the sea floor on one side of the body with both eyes on the upper side [also: flatfishes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A fish of the order Pleuronectiformes, the adults of which have both eyes on one side and usually swim with the other side down, such as a flounder, a halibut, or a sole.



Extensive Definition

The flatfish are an order (Pleuronectiformes) of ray-finned fish, also called the Heterosomata, sometimes classified as a suborder of Perciformes. The name means "side-swimmers" in Greek. In many species both eyes lie on one side of the head, one or the other migrating through and around the head during development. Some species face their "left" side upward, some face their "right" side upward, and others face either side upward. The other distinguishing features of the order are the presence of protrusible eyes, another adaptation to living on the seabed (benthos), and the extension of the dorsal fin onto the head.
Many important food fish are in this order, including the flounders, soles, turbot, plaice, and halibut. There are more than 400 species of this order. Some flatfish can camouflage themselves on the ocean floor.
Flatfish have been cited as dramatic examples of evolutionary adaptation. For example, Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker, explains the flatfish's evolutionary history as:
... bony fish as a rule have a marked tendency to be flattened in a vertical direction.... It was natural, therefore, that when the ancestors of [flatfish] took to the sea bottom, they should have lain on one side.... But this raised the problem that one eye was always looking down into the sand and was effectively useless. In evolution this problem was solved by the lower eye 'moving' round to the upper side.
The development of flatfish is thus considered to recapitulate their evolutionary history.
The asymmetric geometry of flatfish has been likened to the cubist paintings of Pablo Picasso, and is often perceived as being "imperfect", "grotesque", "strange", etc. It is likely that the asymmetry contributes to their survival by helping to disguise them on the ocean floor.


some "species" listed here are groups of species. see individual entries for further lists.
flatfish in German: Plattfische
flatfish in Spanish: Pleuronectiformes
flatfish in Persian: کوشک‌ماهیان
flatfish in French: Pleuronectiformes
flatfish in Korean: 가자미목
flatfish in Icelandic: Flatfiskar
flatfish in Italian: Pleuronectiformes
flatfish in Hebrew: דגי משה רבנו
flatfish in Georgian: კამბალასნაირნი
flatfish in Lithuanian: Plekšniažuvės
flatfish in Hungarian: Lepényhalalakúak
flatfish in Dutch: Platvissen
flatfish in Japanese: カレイ目
flatfish in Norwegian: Flyndrefisker
flatfish in Norwegian Nynorsk: Flyndrefisk
flatfish in Occitan (post 1500): Pleuronectiformes
flatfish in Low German: Plattfisch
flatfish in Polish: Flądrokształtne
flatfish in Portuguese: Pleuronectiformes
flatfish in Russian: Камбалообразные
flatfish in Simple English: Flatfish
flatfish in Swedish: Plattfiskar
flatfish in Thai: อันดับปลาซีกเดียว
flatfish in Vietnamese: Bộ Cá thân bẹt
flatfish in Turkish: Yassı balıklar
flatfish in Chinese: 比目魚
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