Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/761

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PROGRESS OF THE BACKBONED FAMILY.

than the flat-fish. The young sole, when it comes out of the egg, is not flat like the young skate, but a very thin, spindle-shaped fish, something like a minnow. He is then about the size of a grain of rice, very transparent,

PSM V22 D761 First attempts at breathing air.jpg
Fig. 2.

and lives at the top of the sea. He has one eye on each side, like other fish, only one eye is higher up than the other, and the single fin on its back and the one under its body reach almost from head to tail. In this way he swims for about a week, but he is so thin and deep, and his fins are so small, that swimming edgewise is an effort, and soon he falls down on one side, generally the left, to the bottom of the sea. Many times he rises again, especially at first, till he has got used to breathing at the muddy bottom, and meanwhile the eye that lies underneath is gradually working its way round to the upper side, his forehead wrinkles so as to draw the under eye up, while his whole head and mouth receive a twist which he never afterward loses. His skeleton, it must be remembered, is still very soft, and the bones of his face are easily bent; and at last this eye is screwed round, and as he lies at the bottom he can look upward with both eyes, and save the under one from getting scratched by the sand, as it must have done if it had remained below.