1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sheepshead

SHEEPSHEAD, the name of one of the largest species of the genus Sargus, marine fishes known on the coasts of S. Europe as “sargo” or “saragu.” These fishes possess two kinds of teeth:—one, broad and flat, like incisors, occupying in a single series the front of the jaws; the other, semi globular and molar-like, arranged in several series on the sides of the jaws. The genus belongs to the Acanthopterygian family Sparidae which includes the Sea-breams. The sheepshead, Sargus ovis, occurs in abundance on the Atlantic coasts of the United States, from Cape Cod to Florida, and is one of the most valued food-fishes of


North America. It is said to attain to a length of 30 in. and a weight of 15 ℔. Its food consists of shellfish, which it detaches with its incisors from the base to which they are fixed, crushing them with its powerful molars. It may be distinguished from other allied species by seven or eight dark cross-bands traversing the body, by a recumbent spine in front of the dorsal tin, by twelve spines and as many rays of the dorsal and ten rays of the anal fin, and by forty-six scales along the lateral line. The term “sheepshead” is also given in some parts of North America to a freshwater Sciaenoid, Corvina ascula, which is much less esteemed for the table.