Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nature Study at the Sea: Chiton

This is another creature we saw on our trip to Leo Carrillo Beach a couple of days ago. It's called a chiton (ki-tun).

Some facts about chitons:
  • A chiton is a mollusk, meaning it has a soft body and no backbone, and (usually) lives in a shell.
  • A chiton has a dorsal shell made up of 8 separate shell plates. (Count them!)
  • A chiton also has a "girdle" (tissue) that encircles the dorsal shell and holds it together.
  • When a chiton dies, the eight shell plates come apart, because there is no longer any tissue holding them together.
  • This chiton's girdle is ornamented. (See all of the furry-looking things around the shell?) Scientists think that the chiton's girdle ornament is for defense or camouflage.
  • They can curl up in a ball (like a roly-poly!).
  • Chitons do not have heads.
  • Chitons make magnetite. They are the only mollusks that do. Their teeth are coated in magnetite, making them harder than stainless steel.

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