Two large marine fish species were named homonymously by Pliny the Elder (HN 9.8) and Aelian (NA 13.20) as rota in Latin and τροχός in Greek, respectively, leading to the tendency to treat them as one and the same. Although identifications have been proposed since the 16th century, these are not conclusive. The two fish are still referred to as “unknown” in the latest editions. By making a detailed translation of the original texts by Pliny and Aelian and taking into account current ichthyological and ethological knowledge and the history of marine science, we propose to identify the rota as the roughtail stingray (Dasyatis centroura Mittchill, 1815), and the τροχός as the ocean sunfish (Mola mola Linnaeus, 1758).
Ichthyology, rota, τροχός, Pliny the Elder, Aelianus, roughtail stingray, ocean sunfish, history of sciences, ethology.