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flatfish

[flat-fish] /ˈflætˌfɪʃ/
noun, plural (especially collectively) flatfish (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) flatfishes.
1.
any fish of the order Heterosomata (Pleuronectiformes), including the halibut, sole, flounder, etc., having a greatly compressed body and swimming on one side, with both eyes on the upper side in the adult.
Origin
1700-1710
1700-10; flat1 + fish
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for flatfishes

flatfish

/ˈflætˌfɪʃ/
noun (pl) -fish, -fishes
1.
any marine spiny-finned fish of the order Heterosomata, including the halibut, plaice, turbot, and sole, all of which (when adult) swim along the sea floor on one side of the body, which is highly compressed and has both eyes on the uppermost side
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for flatfishes

flatfish

n.

1710, from flat (adj.) + fish (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for flatfishes

flatfish

any member of the order Pleuronectiformes, which includes about 600 species of bony, oval-shaped, flattened fishes such as the flounder, halibut, and turbot. The pleuronectiforms are unique among fishes in being asymmetrical. They are strongly compressed, with both eyes on one side, while other fishes and vertebrates in general are bilaterally symmetrical. The asymmetry is believed to have evolved from a generalized, symmetrical percoid (sea bass) body pattern in a fish that habitually rested on its side. Larval flatfishes have an eye on each side of the head, but during a period of rapid body change (metamorphosis) one eye migrates to the other side of the head, after which the larvae settle to the bottom. Osteological changes resulting from the eye migration are responsible for the asymmetry in the flatfish skull.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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