Two erect spines before the eyes: preopercle with three spines; the first barely one-fifth the length of the head.

C. Scorpius, Bloch, Ichth. pl. 40; Don. Brit. Fish. vol. II. pl. 35.

Flem. Brit. An. p. 216. Sea-Scorpion, Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. i.

p. 60. Le Chaboisseau de mer commun, Cuv. et Vol. Poiss. torn. iv. p. 117.

Length

Rarely exceeds eight or nine inches.

Description

(Form). Head less depressed than in the last species; its breadth not much more than half its length: eyes larger in proportion, situate a little nearer the nose than the nape; the space between them concave, and not equal to their diameter: mouth large; jaws equal: in front of the space between the eyes, two small, but sharp, erect spines: at the posterior part of the upper margin of the orbit a small tubercle, more or less pointed, whence proceeds a slightly elevated crest on each side of the occiput towards the nape, terminating there in another tubercle; the space included between these ridges is of an oblong form approaching to square: preopercle terminating behind in a strong sharp spine directed backwards and a little upwards, its length barely one-fifth that of the head; beneath it one smaller; and at the anterior extremity of the lower margin a third still smaller, directed downwards and somewhat forwards: opercle likewise ending in a sharp spine: subopercle with two small spines, one directed backwards and the other downwards: scapulars and clavicles also each with a single spine directed backwards: first dorsal commencing nearly in a line with the base of the pectorals: second immediately behind it; somewhat longer as well as higher; this last with all the rays simple, but flexible and articulated: anal a little more backward than the second dorsal, and generally terminating nearer the caudal: pectorals very broad, rounded at the extremity; rays simple; seventh and eighth longest: ventrals narrow; the spinous ray and first soft one so intimately united as to appear but one:

D. 9 or 10 - 14 or 15; A. 11; C. 12, and some short; P. 17; V. 1/3.

Number of vertebrae thirty-four or thirty-five. (Colours). Reddish gray, marbled and spotted with dusky and brown; belly whitish: fins pale, with spots and specks of brown forming irregular transverse bars.

Apparently not so abundant on the British coasts as the next species, with which it was for a long time confounded. Inhabits rocky shores, and is of solitary habits. Swells out its head when attacked, endeavouring to wound with the spine on the preopercle. Is very voracious, and feeds on Crustacea. Colours variable. According to Bloch, spawns in December and January.