subtitle for learn-about sections of A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY

Diversity and abundance of chitons1 on the west coast is among the highest in the world.  Some 50 species inhabit the west coast of North America from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California. There are about 16 reasonably common intertidal and subtidal species of Mopalia2 living along the coast, and the largest chiton species in the world, the gumboot3 chiton Cryptochiton stelleri, is found here. In certain Caribbean islands where they once were harvested as food, chitons are sometimes referred to as “coat-of-mail” shells and as “sea beef”.  The large muscle mass comprising the foot, however, is tough, rubbery, and flavourless.photograph of gumboot chiton Cryptochiton stelleri on a rock in the intertidal zone

NOTE1  the word refers to the tunic worn by men in ancient Greece, a sort of thick wool, sleeveless, shirt

NOTE2 a marvelous synopsis of the molecular phylogeny of the genus Mopalia in the North Pacific basin presented by Stanford University and California State University researchers can be found at Kelly & Eernisse 2008 Invert Systematics 22:17

NOTE3  presumably named after its resemblance to the sole of a Wellington boot or gumboot.  The word “gumboot” reminds us of the time when such wading boots were made out of natural, or gum, rubber instead of synthetics.  Cryptochiton stelleri reaches lengths greater than 30cm and live masses approaching 1kg

Gumboot chiton Cryptochiton stelleri attached
to a rock in the intertidal zone 0.3X

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To learn about west-coast CHITONS: select a topic from the chiton menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the CHITON

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

  map showing route needed to be followed by snail to reach the top of the shore in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY map used by snail to find its way to the top of the shore in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
  ANIMATION of snail meeting CHITON
© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

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Phylum Mollusca (lit. “soft” L. or “shellfish” L.)

Class Polyplacophora (lit. “many plates” G.), referring to the 8 protective shell plates, including several dozen shallow-water inhabiting west-coast species

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