Even though we have at least one species of chiton, or coat-of-mail shell, in our northeastern waters, I’ve never come across one. The eight plates, or valves, that make up the shell usually break apart and scatter to the waves. This one was actually in a pile of shells placed as decoration in the villa we stayed in at Klein Bay. The scales on the animal’s girdle have a look of snakeskin. Speaking of girdles, the name chiton, for you fashion-backwards types, means mollusc in Latin, and comes from the Greek khiton, meaning tunic. Some of the statues in your neighborhood Greek Wing are wearing these tunics still.

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