Mossy Chiton

Mopalia muscosa

Order: 

Chitonida

Family: 

Mopaliidae

Some physical attributes that are useful for identifying the Mopalia muscosa include the distinct mossy-textured girdle that is composed of stiff long hairs.  The girdle also contains large plates that are susceptible to erosion or coverage by other organisms.  Mossy chitons have an overall oval shape that can get up to approximately 10cm although the average length is 3cm.  When assessing the location of the chiton, the geographic distribution ranges from Alaska to Isla Cedros within Baja California.  The habitat includes the rocky intertidal zone in which the chiton remains within tidepools.  Unique characteristics of the mossy chiton involve the movement of the organisms.  Moreover, the Mopalia muscosa only moves during night hours or when submerged within water.  In addition, many individuals have a non-overlapping home range that each inidividual returns to after their night excursions. (1).

(1) Freewill, K., Starzomski, B. “Mossy chiton - Mopalia muscosa.” Biodiversity of the Central Coast, https://www.centralcoastbiodiversity.org/mossy-chiton-bull-mopalia-muscosa.html. 

(Photograph) ©2008 T. Van Nunnery

Habitat:

  • Rocky Intertidal Zone