Chitons - Class Polyplacophora

Chitons are molluscs commonly found along rocky shores, although they may be difficult to find at first.

Chitons tend to hide in crevices and underneath boulders, and are well camouflaged among the surrounding rocks. The distinctive feature of all chitons is their eight overlapping plates, which protect them from predators and strong crashing waves. When disturbed they use their muscular, mucus-secreting foot to clamp down hard on rocks, making them difficult to dislodge.

There are many species of chitons and they are all herbivores. Like the gastropod molluscs, chitons have a kind of rasping tongue with teeth, called a radula used to scrape algae off rocks.

Chitons have primitive 'eyes' embedded within their shell that are capable of detecting light and dark. Preferring the shelter underneath rocks, they will scurry away from the light when a boulder is overturned.

Australia has about 150 species of chitons and 90% of these are endemic (that is, found only in Australia).


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