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chiton

chiton (kī´tən), common name for rock-clinging marine mollusks of the class Polyplacophora. Chitons are abundant on rocky coasts throughout most of the world, from the intertidal zone to a depth of about 1,200 ft (400 m). They range in length from 1/2 in. to 12 in. (1.2–30 cm), according to the species, but most are 1 to 3 in. (2.5–7.5 cm) long. The body of a chiton is low and oval; it is covered dorsally by a slightly convex shell consisting of eight linearly arranged overlapping plates. The shell may be dull or brightly colored. Most of the lower surface consists of a broad, flat foot with which the chiton clings to hard surfaces, often so tightly that a sharp instrument is needed to pry it loose. When dislodged, a chiton rolls into a ball. Beneath the shell is the characteristic molluscan mantle, a fleshy outfolding of the body wall. The lower edge of the mantle, called the girdle, extends below the edge of the shell and aids the foot in gripping. The girdle may be very wide and extend upward over the shell; in some species it is smooth or covered with scales, hairs, or spines that give the animal a shaggy appearance. The many gills are arranged in two rows within the mantle, one on either side of the body. The mouth, located on the ventral surface in front of the foot, contains a toothed, tonguelike scraping organ, the radula. Chitons crawl slowly by means of muscular undulations in the foot. Most are herbivorous, feeding on algae scraped from rocks and shells with the radula; some are carnivorous or omnivorous. Most feed at night and shelter under rock ledges by day. Chitons are classified in the phylum Mollusca, class Polyplacophora, order Polyplacophora.

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chiton

chiton (coat-of-mail shell) Mollusc that lives attached to, or creeping on, rocks along marine shores. Bilaterally symmetrical, its upper surface has eight overlapping shells. Underneath is a large fleshy foot and a degenerate head with mouth, gills and mantle. Length: to 33cm (13in). Class Amphineura; order Polyplacophora; family Chitonidae.

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chiton

chi·ton / ˈkītn; ˈkīˌtän/ • n. 1. a long woolen tunic worn in ancient Greece. [ORIGIN: from Greek khitōn ‘tunic.’] 2. a marine mollusk (class Polyplacophora) that has an oval flattened body with a shell of overlapping plates.

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chitons

chitons See POLYPLACOPHORA.

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chiton

chitonAgamemnon, Memnon •ninon, xenon •noumenon • Trianon • xoanon •organon • Simenon • Maintenon •crampon, kampong, tampon •Nippon • coupon •Akron, Dacron, macron •electron • natron • Hebron • positron •Heilbronn • micron •boron, moron, oxymoron •neutron • interferon •fleuron, Huron, neuron •Oberon • mellotron • aileron •cyclotron • Percheron • Mitterrand •vigneron • croissant • Maupassant •garçon • Cartier-Bresson • exon •frisson • Oxon • chanson • Tucson •soupçon • Aubusson • Besançon •penchant • torchon • cabochon •Anton, canton, Danton •lepton •piton, Teton •krypton • feuilleton • magneton •chiton •photon, proton •croûton, futon •eschaton • peloton • contretemps •telethon •talkathon, walkathon •Avon • tableau vivant • vol-au-vent

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Chitons

Chitons

Resources

Chitons are small mollusks, oval in outline, with a broad foot, and a mantle that secretes, and sometimes extends over, the shell. The word chiton is a Greek word meaning a gown or tunic, usually worn next to the skin, and covered with a cloak on going outdoors.

Chitons are exclusively marine and are found on rocky seashores in much the same lifestyle as lim-pets. They are easily distinguishable from limpets, however, as their shell is made of eight plates with transverse sutures. Also, unlike limpets and other snails, chitons have no tentacles or eyes in the head region, just a mouth and a radula. The shell is so different from those of other mollusks that they may appear to be segmented (or metameric), but internally there is no evidence of segmentation, and the eight valves are actually derived from a single embryonic shell.

Chiton eggs are laid singly or in a jelly string and are either fertilized in the mantle cavity or by sperm released into the sea water. The larvae of a few species develop within the female, but most larvae are planktonic. Chiton larvae feed on diatoms and other plankton until they settle out of the water column and metamorphose into the adult form.

Most chitons are 0.8-1.2 in (2-4 cm) long, but there is a giant Pacific coast species, Cryptochiton stelleri, up to 11.8 in (30 cm) long. This species is unusual also for the mantle or girdle that completely covers the shell (crypto = hidden). Other species that deviate from the typical include a species of Callochiton septemvalvis (seven valves).

Chitons are classified as subclass Polyplacophora in the class Amphineura, one of the six classes of mollusks. The other subclass contains the Aplacophora, a group of wormlike mollusks lacking a shell, but possessing in some genera calcareous spicules embedded in the mantle. Amphineura means nerves on both sides, and Polyplacophora means bearing many plates; chitons have two pairs of parallel nerve cords running the length of the body. The nervous system is simple and straight, not twisted as in prosobranch snails.

In spite of their anatomical simplicity, there is no reason to suppose that chitons represent a form ancestral to all the mollusks. Rather the opposite, the fossil record suggests that they followed the gastropods and bivalves in evolution but lost some structures or traits as they became adapted to a restricted niche. The lack of tentacles and eyes, for example, means that chitons cannot function as predators. The shell is obviously defensive. When pried loose from their preferred spot, chitons roll up in a ball, much like certain isopod crustaceans, called pill bugs, and like the armadillo, an armored mammal.

The giant chiton Cryptochiton stelleri was included in a classic study of nucleotide sequences in RNA of a great variety of animals, in which the goal was to establish relations of the phyla. On the resultant phylogenetic tree, the chiton appeared at the end of a branch close to a polychaete worm and a brachiopod, and not far from two clams. Another analysis of the same data put Cryptochiton on a branch next to a nudibranch Anisodoris nobilis and ancestral to the two clams. There is reason to suspect that living chitons are highly evolved creatures and not good subjects for deductions about the initial metazoan radiation in the pre-Cambrian. The reasoning is that any marine mollusks have oxidative enzymes that use an amino acid to produce products such as octopine, alanopine, etc. while serving to reoxidize coenzyme and keep anaerobic metabolism going. These opine enzymes are most varied in archaeogastropods, which are regarded as primitive on numerous grounds. The trend in evolution has been to lose some or all of the opine enzymes and come to depend entirely on lactic acid production for their function. This is what has happened in a few bivalves and polychaete worms and in fishes and other vertebrates. It is also the case with the chitons Chaetopleura apiculata and Mopalia muscosa, which have only a lactate oxidase and no opine enzymes. The earliest chitons may have had a great variety of genes that modern species no longer possess, but this is something that would be difficult to investigate.

There are about 750 species of chitons, at least 50 of which may be found on the coasts of the United States. Among the most common species are Chaetopleura apiculata of New England and Mopalia muscosa of California.

Resources

BOOKS

Kaas, Piet. Monograph of Living Chitons (Mollusca: Polyplacophora) (6 volumes). Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2006.

PERIODICALS

Field, K.G., G.J. Olsen, D.J. Lane, S.J. Giovannoni, M.T. Ghiselin, E.C. Raff, N.R. Pace, and R.A. Raff. Molecular Phylogeny of the Animal Kingdom. Science 239, (1988) 748-753.

Hammen, C.S., and R.C. Bullock. Opine Oxidoreductases in Brachiopods, Bryozoans, Phoronids, and Molluscs. Biochem. Syst. Ecol 19, (1991) 263-269.

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Chitons

Chitons

Chitons are small mollusks , oval in outline, with a broad foot, and a mantle that secretes, and sometimes extends over, the shell. They live on rocky seashores in much the same life-style as limpets . They are easily distinguishable from limpets, however, by their shell made of eight plates (or valves) with transverse sutures. Also, unlike limpets and other snails , the chitons have no tentacles or eyes in the head region, just a mouth and a radula. The shell is so different from those of other mollusks that one might think chitons are segmented (or metameric), but contrary to the general rule, this is incorrect. Internally, there is no evidence of segmentation, and the eight valves are actually derived from a single embryonic shell.

Except for the color , the uniformity of external appearance tempts one to regard chitons as races of a single species , but the small variations are very important to other chitons and to chiton specialists, who like to count the notches and slits along the valve edges. The word chiton is a Greek word meaning a gown or tunic, usually worn next to the skin, and covered with a cloak on going outdoors. The chiton was worn by both men and women, just as the eight plates are worn by both male and female chitons. There are about 600 species of chitons in all, about 75 of them are on the U.S. Pacific Coast. Among the most common species are Chaetopleura apiculata of New England and Mopalia muscosa of California.

Chitons are classified as subclass Polyplacophora in the class Amphineura, one of the six classes of mollusks. The other subclass contains the Aplacophora, a group of wormlike mollusks lacking a shell, but possessing in some genera calcareous spicules embedded in the mantle. Amphineura means nerves on both sides, and Polyplacophora means bearing many plates; chitons have two pairs of parallel nerve cords running the length of the body. The nervous system is simple and straight, not twisted as in prosobranch snails. In spite of their anatomical simplicity, there is no reason to suppose that chitons represent a form ancestral to all the mollusks. Rather the opposite, the fossil record suggests that they followed the gastropods and bivalves in evolution , and lost some structures or traits as they became adapted to a restricted niche . The lack of tentacles and eyes, for example, means that chitons cannot function as predators. The shell is obviously defensive. When pried loose from their preferred spot, chitons roll up in a ball, much like certain isopod crustaceans, called pill bugs, and like the armadillo, an armored mammal.

Most chitons are 0.8-1.2 in (2-4 cm) long, but there is a giant Pacific coast species, Cryptochiton stelleri, up to 11.8 in (30 cm) long. This species is unusual also for the mantle or girdle that completely covers the shell (crypto = hidden). Other surprises include a species of Callochiton septemvalvis (seven valves). Eggs are laid singly or in a jelly string, and are fertilized by sperm released into the sea water . The larvae of a few species develop within the female, but most larvae are planktonic.

The giant chiton Cryptochiton stelleri was included in a classic study of nucleotide sequences in RNA of a great variety of animals, in which the goal was to establish relations of the phyla. On the resultant phylogenetic tree, the chiton appeared at the end of a branch close to a polychaete worm and a brachiopod, and not far from two clams. Another analysis of the same data put Cryptochiton on a branch next to a nudibranch Anisodoris nobilis and ancestral to the two clams. There is reason to suspect that living chitons are highly evolved creatures, and not good subjects for deductions about the initial metazoan radiation in the pre-Cambrian. The reasoning is as follows: Many marine mollusks have oxidative enzymes that use an amino acid to produce products such as octopine, alanopine, etc. while serving to reoxidize coenzyme, and keep anaerobic metabolism going. These opine enzymes are most varied in archaeogastropods, which are regarded as primitive on numerous grounds. The trend in evolution has been to lose some or all of the opine enzymes, and come to depend entirely on lactic acid production for their function. This is what has happened in a few bivalves and polychaete worms, and in fishes and other vertebrates . It is also the case with the chitons Chaetopleura apiculata and Mopalia muscosa, which have only a lactate oxidase and no opine enzymes. The earliest chitons may have had a great variety of genes that modern species no longer possess, but this is something that would be difficult to investigate.

Resources

books

Abbott, R.T. Seashells of the Northern Hemisphere. New York: Gallery Books, 1991.


periodicals

Field, K.G., G.J. Olsen, D.J. Lane, S.J. Giovannoni, M.T. Ghiselin, E.C. Raff, N.R. Pace, and R.A. Raff. "Molecular Phylogeny of the Animal Kingdom." Science 239 (1988) 748-753.

Hammen, C.S., and R.C. Bullock. "Opine Oxidoreductases in Brachiopods, Bryozoans, Phoronids, and Molluscs." Biochemical Systems and Ecology 19 (1991): 263-269.

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Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

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