Teeth, in the adult, sharp-pointed: skin smooth: generally three rows of spines on the tail, the middle row continued along the back: colour above brown, with distinct roundish dusky spots.

R. maculata, Mont, in Wern. Mem. vol. ii. p. 426. R. Rubus, Don. Brit. Fish. vol. i. pl. 20. Fuller Ray, Penn: Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 86. (Synonyms excluded). Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. iii. p. 116. (Syn. excl).

Length

From two to three feet.

Description

{Form). Rhomboidal; the transverse diameter more than one-third greater than the length from the end of the snout to the vent: snout short and obtuse, projecting very little beyond the pectorals, the anterior margins of which meet in front at more than a right angle: jaws transverse, moderate: teeth small, numerous, very closely compacted; in several longitudinal, somewhat oblique, rows; roundish at the base, each terminating above in a minute fine sharp point, the points inclining inwards, and much more developed on the inner than on the outer rows, on which last they are sometimes entirely wanting; in young fish all the teeth are obtuse, the points not shewing themselves till afterwards: nostrils much nearer to the mouth than to the anterior angles of the pectorals: eyes moderate: spiracles large: skin perfectly smooth above and below, excepting along the anterior margins of the pectorals and the upper ridge of the snout, which are rough with very minute spines: two strong spines at the corners of each eye; an interrupted series of spines down the line of the back, with one isolated spine on each side of the series, about mid-way between the eyes and the posterior margin of the pectorals; the dorsal series of spines is continued down the middle of the tail, at the sides of which are more or less indication of two lateral rows; sometimes, in small specimens, these last are wholly wanting; all the above spines incline a little backwards: tail about the length of the body, rather stout, depressed, with two moderate finlets, of similar size and form, nearly but not quite contiguous; merely the rudiment of a caudal: pectorals broad, the lateral angles rather obtuse, the posterior margin rounded, the anterior margin straight or nearly so: ventrals moderate. The male, in addition to the spines mentioned above, has the usual series of curved spines on the pectorals, which, however, do not shew themselves till a certain age. {Colours). Upper parts brown, sometimes reddish brown, distinctly marked all over with roundish dusky spots: under parts plain white. A variety is not uncommon, in which the usual spots are nearly obsolete, but there is more or less trace of one ocellated spot in the middle of each pectoral: Montagu has noticed two kinds of this last variety; one, with a large dark spot surrounded with a white circle; the other with a black spot within a white circle, the whole surrounded by five equidistant dark spots. Another variety is in the Museum of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, in which the upper parts are pale orange-yellow, with light rufous brown spots.

This species, although very common and well characterized, has been so misunderstood and confused with others, that it is extremely difficult to attach to it its proper synonyms. For this reason I have adopted the name given it by Montagu, who was the first in this country to point out its true distinguishing characters. It is undoubtedly the R. Rubus of Donovan, and most probably the Fuller Ray of Pennant, who describing from an adult male, appears to have considered the sexual spines as characteristic of the species. It is impossible to identify it with certainty in the works of Turton and Fleming*, both of whom appear to have mixed up the description of this with that of other species. It is known on some parts of the coast by the name of Hommelin, on others by that of Sand-Ray.