“One of the guesses we make is that there was not a lot of competition for early lie-and-wait predators on the bottom of the ocean,” she says.

Darwin worried that the relative scarcity of such transitional fossils would doom his theory. Using CT scans, however, Friedman took a much more detailed look at the fishes’ skeletons and showed that they were in fact primitive adult flatfishes with asymmetrical skulls and one eye only halfway through its evolutionary journey across the face.

Flatfish may be genuine anatomical anomalies—rebuffing nature’s devotion to symmetry—but they did not somehow evade natural selection, nor are they a counter-argument to Darwin.

“It seems that habitat was a vacuum, and nature abhors a vacuum, so flatfish adapted to it.”.

People have been interested in flatfish for thousands of years—primarily as food.

Different life stages inhabit very different regions of the ocean ecosystem.

Fishing gears used to harvest Pacific halibut have minimal impacts on habitat. Spending so much time in that lowly position would inevitably have damaged one eye—not to mention wasting its visual powers. “If everyone is studying fruit flies and zebrafish, I’ll be damned if I am going to study them.

As a larval flatfish begins its passage into adulthood, it does not merely experience uneven growth spurts and mood swings.

NOAA Fisheries West Coast/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND), Alexander Schreiber/Laboratory of Vertebrate Metamorphosis, St. Lawrence University, The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers. Instead of drifting down, it falls up, and rather than flakes of ice, it’s made of innumerable diaphanous eggs that rise from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. U.S. wild-caught Pacific halibut is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations. In the past decade, biologists have hit upon some of the answers.

migration to the right side of the body around two and a half Namely, why did these animals abandon their previously symmetrical situation in life?

Pigmentation begins after a week, and the eye begins its

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Conversely, from above, the upper portion of the young fish Schreiber wondered if the same was true for flatfish, so he filmed typically developing larval flatfish in pitch darkness with infrared cameras—something no one had ever done before. “I’ve always been drawn to really weird things different from what other people like,” Schreiber says.

One eye slowly migrates to the other side, and the fish swims with an increasing tilt until it is flat on its side, with both eyes pointing up. On top of the unabashed asymmetry of an individual flatfish, there’s a whole extra level of lopsidedness among the entire population of flatfishes in the ocean.

In Alaska, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is responsible for allocating the catch limits among users and user groups fishing off Alaska and developing regulations for the fishery, in line with IPHC recommendations.