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Acanthopleura hirtosa (Family Chitonidae)

Rough Chiton


The Rough Chiton is the most common intertidal chiton in Western Australia. It ranges from Point Cloates, SA to Recherche Archipelago, WA. Wells & Bryce state its distribution is from Albany to Shark Bay, WA. (SA, WA)


The Rough Chiton is a large, oval-shaped, black or brown coloured chiton, of low elevation. It grows to a length of 50-60mm and a width of 35mm. It has a distinctive black and white coloured girdle, with short, conical, "club-head" shaped scales. The valve sculpture consists of weak tubercles, usually only detected in juveniles and in protected individuals. Most adults are usually eroded. The anterior (front) valve has ten slits, while the median valve has one slit. The posterior valve is marked with callouses. All of the valve insertion plates have "comb-like" teeth. All of the valves have small ocelli, or light detecting structures. The valves are coloured olive green to brown above, with dark patches and a whitish band on the edge area. The girdle is usually banded with black and white.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Rough Chiton is common at mid to low tide levels and below to 2 metres depth on limestone reefs and shores. It is usually found in protective gutters and hollows.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Hairy Chiton is common across its distribution range and does not appear to be under threat from human interaction.

Other Comments:

Acanthopleura is made up of two Greek words; akantha is a Greek word meaning prickle, and acanthos means a point, while pleura means rib or side. Hirtosa comes from the Latin word hirsutus or hirtus, meaning shaggy, rough or hairy.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores: a guide to the temperate shores for the beach-lover, the naturalist, the shore-fisherman and the student. p.261, Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.71, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Wells, F.E. & Bryce, C.W. (1988). Seashells of Western Australia. p.30, Western Australian Museum.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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