Friday Fellow: Lined Chiton

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Let’s return to our soft-bodied fellows, the mollusks, and present one of the most beautiful of them, the lined chiton, Tonicella lineata.

As a typical chiton, it has a shell composed of a row of eight overlapping plates sorrounded by a flexible structure, the girdle. Such an anatomy allows those animals to be flexible and even curl up into a ball, just like a woodlouse, when dislodged.

Tonicella lineata, a small sea jewel. Credits to Kirt L. Onthank

Tonicella lineata, a small sea jewel. Credits to Kirt L. Onthank*

Occurring in intertidal and subtidal waters of the North Pacific, in North America, Russia and Japan, the lined chiton is characterized by its beautiful colors. The shell plates are marked by a series of black, purple or blue lines on a red or brown background. The girdle is also colorful, having a reddish background often marked with yellow patches.

Despite its colorful body, the lined chiton is a small creature, reaching about 5 centimeters in length. It feeds mainly on coralline algae, occurring close to them. Its main predators are the terrible sea stars while its closest friends are the spiny but friendly sea urchins, as they usually help the chiton to protect against the sun by allowing them to hide beneath them.

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References:

Barnes, J. R. 1972. Ecology and reproductive biology of Tonicella lineata (Wood, 1815) (Mollusca-Polyplacophora). PhD Thesis.

Wikipedia. Tonicella lineata. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonicella_lineata >. Access on March 03, 2016.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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