X. Gladius, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 432. Block, Ichth. pl. 76. Flem. Brit. An. p. 220. Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 201. Cuv. et Val. Poiss. torn. viii. p. 187. pls. 225, & 226. X. Rondeletii, Leach in Wern. Mem. vol. ii. p. 58. pl. 2. f. 1. Leach, Zool. Misc. vol.i. p. 62. pi. 27. Sword-Fish, Will. Hist. Pise. p. 161. tab. I. 27. f. 2. Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 160. pl. 26. Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. in. p. 216. pl. 30. Knox in Edinb. Journ. of Nat. and Geog. Sci. vol. ii. p. 427. Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. i. p. 143.
From ten to fifteen feet; sometimes more.
(Form). Body elongated, nearly round posteriorly, a little compressed in front: depth increasing with the age from one-tenth to one-sixth of the entire length, reckoning this last from the end of the sword to the extremity of the lobes of the tail: sword three-tenths: upper part of the cranium flat or slightly convex; profile falling gently; sides of the head vertical: eye round; its diameter nearly two-thirds of the breadth of the cranium above it: sword terminating in a sharp point; the edges cutting, and finely denticulated: lower jaw likewise pointed, extending to where the upper surface of the sword becomes horizontal: no teeth in either of the jaws: pharyngeans only with fine teeth like shorn velvet: no true tongue: gill-opening large; the branchiostegous membrane with seven rays: pectorals inserted very low down, sickle-shaped, one-seventh of the entire length, this last being reckoned as before: ven-trals none: dorsal commencing above the gill-opening, and extending in young subjects to within a short distance of the caudal; its anterior portion very much elevated and pointed; rays rapidly decreasing from the fifth to the eleventh, continuing low beyond that point to the thirty-ninth or fortieth; last three or four again elevated: all the intermediate or low portion of the fin extremely delicate, and with the rays more slender than those at the two extremities; in adult individuals often found very much torn, or even entirely destroyed, causing the two elevated ends which are left to appear like two distinct fins: anal somewhat similar in shape to the dorsal, but much shorter, only commencing in a line with its last third portion: caudal crescent-shaped:
B. 7; D. 3/40; A. 2/15; C. 17; P. 16: the whole head and body covered with a somewhat rough skin, the roughness arising from very minute scales; opercle smooth: lateral line scarcely visible: on each side of the tail a projecting horizontal keel. Number of vertebrae twenty-five. (Colours). All the under parts fine silvery white: upper parts tinged with dusky blue. Young individuals from twelve to eighteen inches in length, have the whole body covered with little tubercles, disposed in longitudinal rows: these disappear first on the back, and afterwards on the belly: they are no longer visible in individuals of three feet. Cuv.
* Elem. of Nat. Hist. vol. i. p. 363.
† Loudon's Maq. of Nat. Hist. vol. vi. p. 529.
‡ Cuv. et Val. Hist. Nat. des Poiss. torn. viii. p. 108. pl. 217.
Occasionally taken in the British seas, off various parts of the coast. Common in the Mediterranean, where it is much sought after as an article of food. Attacks other fish, on which it is said to prey; but, according to Bloch, feeds also on vegetable substances. The stomach of one examined by Fleming contained the remains of the Loligo sagit-tata. But little is known on the subject of its reproduction. When the intermediate part of the dorsal fin is worn away, it becomes the X. Ron-deletii of Leach.