Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Polyplacophora > Chiton Anatomy


Chiton Anatomy


ChitonUnderside6.jpg (166918 bytes) Like the mantle of gastropods, a girdle of muscular tissue surrounds the chiton body, and the shell plates are partially embedded, on the dorsal (top) side. The chiton moves on its foot, like other molluscs. The muscular girdle gives structural support for the shell plates and a complex muscle system articulating the shell plates. Chitons, for example can roll into a ball for protection. In several species the girdle also can be used like a net, to capture small food particles. .

A comparatively simple body plan is found, with a straight-line arrangement of the visceral organs, somewhat like that of the Monoplacophoran gastropod, Neopilina galatheae, mentioned earlier (see Shell Classes).

Multiple gills are suspended over the pallial (mantle) cavity from its roof. The other visceral organs are less well defined. For example, the tubular ventricle of the heart  is surrounded


by the auricle and separated only by a stiff membrane with one or two paired ports between them. In turn, the muscular portion of the heart surrounds the auricle. The heart is weakly contractile, and pumping the hemolymph is aided by generalized muscle movement of the body. No well defined arteries or veins are found. Oxygenated hemolymph is distributed through sinuses and interstitial spaces. Hemocyanin, the oxygen transport molecule, is dissolved directly in the lymph.

A long nephridial sinus runs the length of the chiton terminating in a nephridial pore for urine excretion. The

nephridial pore is located at the posterior end. Osmotic regulation seems not to be present, as chiton body fluid is iso-osmotic with sea water.

The chiton nervous system is more like an oval-shaped nerve net. Ganglia are sparse, poorly defined, and  largely found in the buccal area.

Most chitons have separate sexes, but they are not dimorphic. A few are hermaphroditic and capable of self-fertilization; however, their sperm clusters mature later than do the female gonadal tissues (Beesley et al. 1998).


Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Chitons>Gastropods > Common Name