Uranoscopus scaber

Among the 28 species that make up the genus Uranoscopus, which together with 7 other genera make up the family Uranoscopidae, we find the species Uranoscopus scaber or commonly known as atlantic stargazer. It is a species whose distribution includes the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from the coasts of the Bay of Biscay to the waters of Senegal, as well as the Black Sea. Its habitat is formed by those sandy and/or muddy bottoms, in which the specimens bury themselves, leaving only their eyes and mouth to the outside. The bathymetric range in which we will find specimens of this species, ranges from 14 meters to more than 400 meters deep.

The body of Uranoscopus scaber is elongated, robust in the anterior part, and somewhat compressed in the posterior part. They can reach a maximum total size of 40 cm, although specimens are usually up to 30 cm in total length. It has a large and robust head flattened dorsally and cuboid in shape, in the upper part of which the eyes are located. These are small in size and with a separation between the two content. The mouth is practically vertical, large, oriented upwards and has a small tentacle-like fringe on the lower lip with which it attracts prey. The operculum has a robust and venomous spine. It has two dorsal fins, one formed by 3 to 4 spines, followed by a second dorsal fin with 13-15 segmented soft rays. The anal fin has 1 spine and 12-14 segmented soft rays, the pectoral fins are wide.

As for the coloration of Uranoscopus scaber, the predominant color of the body is grayish brown on the dorsal and lateral part, with a yellowish-whitish mottling on the ventral part. The first dorsal fin is black, and a feature that differentiates this species from others of the same genus is the absence of a white spot at the origin of the dorsal fin.

As we mentioned at the beginning, Uranoscopus scaber specimens live buried in the sand or mud, where they go completely unnoticed by their prey. The tentacle located on the lower jaw is reddish in color, and the specimen will move it making it look like an irresistible worm to its prey, which, unwary, will approach and suddenly be swallowed completely by Uranoscopus scaber.


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