Although the common name of the dactylopterids suggests that these fishes can fly, they cannot; only the true flying fishes (Exocoetidae) are capable of flight. It is for this reason that many authors have suggested that the common name be changed to helmet gurnards. It is likely that the giant pectoral fins are spread quickly, to scare "would-be" predators, to communicate with conspecifics, or for controlled gliding over the seafloor for prey. Dactylopterids can produce sound by stridulating the hyomandibular bone. Flat-heads and their allies are typical "lie and wait" predators that spend most of their time buried completely or partially in the sand or mud.

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