Dorsal line falling gradually to the snout: depth very nearly one-third of the length: denticulations of the preopercle moderate.
L. Tinea, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. 1. p. 477. Turt. Brit. Faun. p. 98. Crenilabrus Tinea, Flem. Brit. An. p. 208. Turdus vulgatissimus, Will. Hist. Pise. p. 319. Ray, Syn. Pise. p. 136. Ancient Wrasse, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iiii. p. 244. pi. 47. Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. in. p. 332. pi. 58. Gilt-Head, Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. 1. p. 293.
* Linn. Trans, vol. xiv. p. 80.
† Voyage to China, vol. ii. p. 122.
From eight to ten inches.
(Form). General form resembling that of the species in the first section of the first sub-genus: greatest depth contained a very little more than three times in the entire length: thickness twice and a half in the depth: dorsal line falling very regularly, continuous with the profile; no depression at the nape: head contained three times and a half in the whole length: jaws equal; teeth prominent, of moderate size, the middle anterior ones longest, about thirteen above and fifteen below, with a secondary but imperfect row of smaller ones behind in the upper jaw: eyes moderate, rather high up; their distance from the end of the snout equalling twice their diameter; the space between them a little concave, equal to the same: ascending margin of the pre-opercle sharply denticulated, but the denticulations not so much developed as in the next species; nearly vertical, and making a right angle with the basal margin: opercle large; the margin entire, rounded below, emarginated above: lateral line following the curvature of the back at one-fourth of the depth, bending suddenly downwards opposite the termination of the dorsal fin: scales very large; number in the lateral line thirty-six: dorsal commencing in a line with the pectorals, and posterior angle of the opercle; soft portion rounded, higher than the spinous: anal commencing a little anterior to the soft portion of the dorsal, but terminating in a line with that fin: caudal rounded, scaly at the base, but with no rows of scales between the rays: pectorals and ventrals much as in the other species of this genus:
B. 5; D. 16/9; A. 3/10; C. 13, and 2 short; P. 14; V. 1/5.
(Colours). Back, and upper part of the sides above the lateral line, marked with alternate longitudinal lines of dull red and dusky blue; sides beneath the lateral line bluish green, spotted with dull red; abdomen the same, but paler: upper part of the head deep brownish red, with undulating lines of bright azure-blue; cheeks and gill-covers bluish green with longitudinal lines of red; throat and beneath the pectorals paler, lined with red: irides bluish green, with an inner circle of red: dorsal, caudal, anal and ventral fins, bluish green, spotted and lined with red: pectorals pale without spots.
Found on many parts of the coast, and perhaps the most common of all the British species belonging to this family. Chiefly frequents deep water where the bottom is rocky, and is often taken in the prawn-pots. Feeds principally on Crustacea. Spawns in April. It is the Common Wrasse of Couch*, and the Old Wife of some English authors. Pennant calls it Ancient Wrasse, but it must not be confounded with the Ancient Wrasse of Donovan, which is clearly the L. maculatus of this work.