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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Lined Chiton Tonicella lineata

Chitons are mollusks with shells made up of eight arching and overlapping plates. The lined chiton is so called because of a series of zigzagging blue or red lines on its shell. The shell is usually pinkish in color, which provides good camouflage as this chiton grazes from rocks that are covered with encrusting pink coralline algae. The lined chiton’s mantle extends around the shell on all sides, forming an unusually smooth, leathery “girdle” that helps to hold its eight shell-plates together. It has a large, muscular foot, which it uses to move over rocks and, when still, to grip on to them in much the same way as limpets do. At low tide, it remains stationary to avoid water loss. Its head is small and eyeless. The sexes are separate and it reproduces by releasing its gametes into the water.

Lined Chitonzoom image
  • Class Polyplacophora
  • Length 1 in (3.5 cm)
  • Habitat Intertidal and subtidal zones, common on rocky surfaces
  • Distribution Temperate waters of northeast and northwest Pacific
Lined Chiton habitat mapzoom image