Gallery of Chitons

     It has been over forty-five years since we started collecting and studying these interesting mollusks. After viewing this site, we hope that you will enjoy chitons as much as we do. If you are interested in exchanging information or finding out more about them, please contact Glenn & Laura Burghardt @ Shown on this site are selections of chitons from various parts of the world. 

     Photos have been taken of specimens from out collection.


Check on a link at left to enter the specific geographic area of your interest

See below for information on chitons

General Information

Chitons belong to the Order Polyplacophora which is divided into Suborders - Ischnochitonicae, Lepidopleuricae and Acanthochitonicae. Each of these suborders are then further divided into numerous Families, i.e. Mopalidae, Ischnochitonidae, Lepidopleuridae etc.

Chitons are a flat shaped marine animal with eight plates or valves held together by a girdle encircling them see diagram of parts. Most species are oblong shaped with a few almost round. The texture and color of this girdle varies considerably with each species as does the surface of the valves. Some girdles are smooth or spongy, others are rough or sandy; some are covered with reptile-like scales, others with hairs, spines or tufts. The valves are also quite varied. They can be smooth as polished stone, sandy, pitted or sculptured with ribs, grooves etc. One of a chiton's most appealing characteristics is its color and/or pattern which again varies much between species. A properly prepared chiton can be one of the most interesting specimens in your mollusk collection. See preservation


To collect chitons it is best to wait for a minus tide and pick yourself a rocky area which would support these marine in the matter of habitat. Or, if you are lucking enough to be a diver then just look for the habitat. Then the search begins. Aside from those species which can be generally always found on the high exposed rocks which are only occasionally splashed by the waves and covered only at high tides, most specimens will be hidden under ledges, in rock crevices or under rocks or smooth boulders in loose sand.

As you progress in your collecting techniques you will discover that some species are generally always found with certain other marine animals. Skin diving will bring you into a whole new world of collecting as so many of the speciess that can be found in 40 feet or more are seldom if ever found in the intertidal zone.

The most important part in chiton collecting comes after you find the specimen. This is the proper removal and preservation of the specimen. If one does not wish to properly take care of a chiton then it would be best for all concerned to leave the animal back at the beach in its natural habitat. After removing the animal from the rock with a sharp instrument such as a scalpel or thin knife blade, being careful not to knick its girdle or mantle, it should be immediately placed on a glass microscope slide, wooden tongue depressor or some similar smooth object. This should be done quickly so that the animal does not have a chance to curl. Glass or plastic slides work out best as the chiton can not get a hold on the smooth surface and therefore flattens out nicely.

After placing it on a slide, tie the chiton down with a thin cloth strip, a piece of sewing tape or a strip of nylon stocking. Care should be taken that the girdle is spread out and that the shell is flat and not arched or squashed. Sometimes a rinse in saltwater will make the animal lie flatter. After you are satisfied with the condition of the specimen on the slide, the complete unit (chiton and slide) is placed in a vial of alcohol/glycerin mixture. This solution is made up of 1/3 isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, 1/3 water and 1/3 glycerin. All of the tying down is best done at the collecting site but the placing in the preserving solution can wait until you get home. But if you wait, make sure the animal is still secured correctly before placing into the solution.

The specimens are left in this solution for at least 24 hours, sometimes longer for large specimens. Then you must decide on your intended method of display. The specimen can be dried for placement in plastic boxes or Riker-type mounts or they can be displayed in alcohol in plastic bottles. The latter display shows the chiton in a more natural look.

For dry results the chitons are retied on tongue depressors and allowed to dry for a week keeping them tied down until completely dry. For the wet display, which in our opinion shows the shells to their best in color and form, remove the specimen from the preserving solution and indivually tie it to a glass slide with nylon 'invisible' thread and then place the slide and chiton in a small plastic vial (pill bottle) filled with the alcohol/gylcerin mixture. The slide will tilk at an angle and will be lost from sight leaving only the chiton appearing to float in space. After a month or so, the mixture will have turned a greenish ting from the transfer of alcohol mixture into the body and the release of body fluids. It will need to be changed to clear mixture for better viewing.

You can then go one step further by placing the chiton specimen under a scope and clean the surface and girdle surface. In our opinion, nothing is so attractive as a well cleaned chiton specimen with the girdle hairs showing clearly.

There is a third method of display that can be used for specimens that have curled up. This is disarticulating them by boiling in freshwater and cleaning the individual valves in household bleach. They are then glued back together in THE SAME ORDER as originally found. This makes a nice display but is scientifically lacking since the girdle is gone.




  • a = plumed hairs
  • b = bristle hairs
  • c = sutural hairs
  • d = spines or spinelets
  • e = smooth scales
  • f = mucronate scales
  • g = striated scales
  • h = sandy girdle
  • i = spiculose fringe
  • j = mucro
  • k = posterior or tail valve
  • l = median or intermediate valves (6 of these)
  • m = anterior of head valve
  • n = jugum (6 of these)
  • o = girdle
  • p = lateral area
  • q = central area

(please continue) 


anterior -
situated in front, relatively nearer the head, the front end.
articulamentum -
the inner, usually hard, semi-porcelaneous shell layer, generally projecting past the tegmentum on the sides and front of the valves to form the insertion plates and the sutural laminae.
axial -
term applied to ribs or color bands which are longitudinal, not spiral
beak -
angular projection of the apex of an intermediate valve.
bifurcated -
divided into two branches or stems, double-pronged.
cancellated -
cross-barred, latticed; a network formed by small interlacing bars, a reticulation, sculpture lines intersecting at right angles.
central area -
the upper surface of an intermediate valve of chitons, lying centrally and sometimes differing in sculpture from the lateral area.
commensal -
two or more different species usually living with one another, but not as parasite-and-host, nor deriving any apparent advantage from the association.
conjugate -
joined in pairs, coupled, paired.
costa -
rounded ridge on the surface of a shell, larger than a cord.
costate -
having costa or a rib-like structure.
crenulated -
finely notched or delicately corrugated, wrinkled on the edges, indented or scalloped margin of a shell, regularly indented.
decussated -
intersected, striations crossing at acute angles, a latticed surface of fine ribs not necessarily at right angles.
dendritic -
branching in form, tree-like.
dendroid -
shrub-shaped, the shape of a small tree.
depressed -
lowered in possession, pressed or kept down, flattened from above, sunk below the general surface.
diffuse -
spreading, widely spread out, extended.
divaricated -
to branch off or diverge, fork.
eaves -
in chitons, the portions of the tegmentum just over the points where the insertion plate and sutural laminae push from under it.
falcate -
scythe-shaped, new moon, hooked.
fasciculated -
a little bunch of hairs or bristles against each end of each valve characterizing some species of chiton.
fathom -
a nautical unit of measure, six feet, used primarily for measuring the depth of the ocean by means of a sounding line.
ferruginous -
rust colored, brownish or yellowish-red.
fimbricated -
having a fringed edge or border.
flammules -
spots of color resembling a small flame, reddish, tinged with red.
funicular -
pertaining to a cord, shaped like a small cord or band.
girdle -
a flexible, leathery, muscular integument holding the chiton valves in place, often ornamented with scales, spicules, or hairy processes.
globose -
rounded, sphere-shaped, like a globe or ball, nearly globular.
granosus -
resembling a string of beads or grains, covered with minute grain-like elevations.
granulated -
covered with minute grains or beads or small nodules.
granule -
a very small or minute elevation.
granulose -
resembling grains.
holotype -
a single specimen upon which a species is based.
imbricated -
overlapping one another at the margins, shingle-like, to lay or arrange regularly so as to overlap one another.
incised -
having deep notches, cut into deeply, sculptured with sharply cut grooves.
insertion plates -
narrow marginal extensions of the articulamentum of the valves of chitons projecting into the girdle.
intercostate -
between the ribs or ridges.
interstices -
crack, crevice, chink, a narrow space between the parts of a body or things close together.
intertidal zone -
the area bounded by the high and low tides.
jugal sinus -
(also called sutural sinus) the depression between the sutural laminae.
jugal tract -
the surface of the tegmentum adjacent to the jugum.
jumum -
a longitudinal ridge, sharp or rounded, on some intermediate chiton valves.
keel -
the longitudinal ridge.
lacunose -
with a small gap or pit.
lateral area -
a diagonal sculptured triangular shape situated at the sides toward the anterior of the intermediate valves of some chitons, and set off from the central area by a diagonal ridge.
latticed -
cancellated, crossed, to cross or interlace.
lirate -
fine raised lines or fine grooves on the shell surface, ornamented with sharp, raised threads, marked with parallel grooves or ridges, thread-like sculpture.
littoral -
the seashore between high and low tide lines.
longitudinal -
the length of the shell of direction of longest diameter.
maculated -
splashed or spotted, blotches.
maculose -
covered with spots.
margin -
the edge of a shell.
marginate -
a thickened edge or border.
marginated -
having a margin, especially one of distinct character or appearance.
median -
pertaining to the middle.
microscopic -
exceedingly minute, visible only under a microscope. millimeter (mm) - one-thousandth of a meter, 0.03937 of a inch, 25.4 mm equals one inch.
mucro -
ending in a sharp, rigid point, a small pointed process or part.
mucronate -
terminating abruptly in a short point or spine.
node -
a knob or swelling.
nodose -
having tubercules, knobs, knobbed ribs.
nodular -
in the form of small knobs or nodules, small knob-like projections.
nodulose -
having hodes of small size.
oblique -
to deviate from the perpendicular, slanting.
obsolete -
obscure, not very distinct, rudimental, imperfectly developed.
olivaceous -
resembling the olive, olive colored, dark greenish.
omnivorous -
eating both animal and vegetable food.
pilose -
covered with hairs, especially with fine and soft hair.
pleural areas -
side slopes of valves of chitons, not including the jugal tracts.
plumose -
having fine processes on opposite sides.
posterior -
situated away from the anterior part of the shell.
punctate -
covered or studded with dots over the surface, dotted with color spots.
quincunx -
an arrangment of five things in a square, having one in each corner and one in the center.
radial -
extending from a center in a manner of rays.
radiated -
to send out in rays or direct lines from a common point.
radula -
a rasp-like organ or lingual ribbon armed with tooth-like processes.
reticulated -
cross-ridged, distinct lines crossing each other like a net work, cancellated, sculpture not crossing at right angles.
serrate -
toothed or with sharp notches along the edge like a saw.
spicule -
a small, slender, hard body, sharp-pointed, often needle-like, as the spciulose fringe on the girdle of a chiton.
spinulous -
having small spines.
striae -
superfical furrows or very fine lines which cross the surface of the shell in different directions.
striate -
sculptured with microscopic lines, longitudinally marked with fine grooves or incised lines.
strigate -
marked with fine closely set grooves.
strigose -
rigid or pointed surface, like that of a file.
sutural laminae -
anterior plate-like projections of the articulamentum expending from either side of the tail valve or an intermediate chiton valve.
suture -
the line of junction of seam along which two hard structures join such as a point where two valves of a chiton meet.
tegmentum -
the upper exposed layer of the valves of chitons.
transverse -
lying across, crosswide, bands or striae running across the shell at right angles to the axis.
tricostate -
having three ribs or ridges.
tubercule -
a little know, nodule, pertaining to a rough elevation.
tuberculated -
having a number of small knobs, pimples or small projections.
tuberculose -
characterized by tubercules, full of knobs.
valve -
one of the separable portions of a shell of a mollusk.