Local beachcombers are likely to come across the oval-shaped chitons that are known to us as “suck rocks” – but what are these creatures? What do they eat? How do they see? And where do they come from? Here are 5 things you probably don’t already know.
1. Although these primitive organisms started evolving approximately 500 million years ago at the start of the Paleozoic era, they’ve made slow progress: the creature we see today is very similar to the creature that existed during prehistoric times.
2. The type of chitons found in Bermuda are the West Indian Chiton (Chiton tuberculatus)
3. Chitons have a dorsal shell comprised of 8 overlapping shells, bound together by a leathery “girdle” that allows them to stick so strongly to the rocks. The overlapping shells provide protection and the ability to move across surfaces.
4. They stick to the rocks to suck on their primary food source: algae. They eat with a tongue-like structure that has rasping teeth tipped with metal compounds.
5. Just below its shell, Chitons have thousands of eyes and though more extensive research is required, it has been discovered that they can differentiate between a predator’s shadow and changes in light caused by clouds.