Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chitons: Colorful and Unique Sea Creatures

Chitons: Colorful and Unique Sea Creatures  

What are chitons? Have you seen one? Are there some good things we need to learn about these creatures? Are there some useful things we need to know about them?

Well, these beautiful and colorful sea creatures called 'chitons', pronounce as kai-tnz, are small to large, primitive mollusks. There are 900 to 1,000 extant species of chitons. Other common names for these creatures are sea cradles and coat-of-mail shells. Chitons have a shell which is composed of eight separate shell plates or valves.

Here are some notable and colorful species of chitons.

 Lined Chiton (Tonicella lineata)

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Lined Chiton is a very colorful species, having blue, purple or black straight or zigzag lines on each of the eight valves. The background color of the valves is often brown or red, but can also be bright blue or yellow to orange. The girdle is hairless and brown to red or pink, often with regular yellow or white patches. This species grows to 5 cm in length.

Their natural range stretches from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to San Miguel Island of California, as well as the Sea of Okhotsk of Russia and northern Japan. This species has also been found in Puget Sound, Washington on floats. It has been recorded from a depth of 30 m to 90 m (100 - 300 feet).


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