Merluccius merluccius has an elongate body that may reach up to 1.3 m in length. Although superficially similar to the cod-like family, it only has two dorsal fins and one anal fin. The first dorsal fin is short and triangular. The second dorsal fin, like the anal fin, is prolonged. It has a straight lateral line. It has a large and narrow head with a large mouth. It has a dark blue dorsal colouring but is silvery-grey underneath. Merluccius merluccius has been observed using its pectoral and pelvic fins to dig into soft sandy substrates, often throwing sand onto their backs.
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