Mopalia spectabilis Cowan and Cowan, 1977

Common name(s):   Red-flecked Mopalia

Synonyms: Mopalia spectabilis
Order Neoloricata
Suborder Lepidopleurina
Family Mopaliidae
Mopalia spectabilis at Keystone jetty, at about 18 m depth
(Photo by: Kirt Onthank, August 2007)
Description:   Dorsal surface of wide girdle has no scales or granules but does have abundant flexible, bottle-brush-shaped hairs which are not as long as the girdle is wide.  The girdle hairs are not strap-shaped, may be up to 4 mm long, have filamentous branches, and have glassy spicules on the tips.  Has a cleft in the posterior end of the girdle.  The lateral areas of plates 2-7 are separated from the central areas by a series of enlarged tubercles or by a ridge of enlarged, partly coalesced tubercles.  The lateral areas also have a crosshatched pattern of tubercles along the margins.  The central areas of the plates are pitted in longitudinal rows.  The plates are olive with bright turquoise, orange, or reddish-brown zigzag marks, especially on plate 2.  The first plate does not have large longitudinal ridges.  The girdle is usually banded orange and brown.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:   Mopalia ciliata and M. hindsii also have the posterior cleft in the girdle, but M. ciliata has strap-shaped girdle hairs and M. hindsii has no pronounced ridge separating the c

entral and lateral areas of the plates, plus neither has M. spectabilis' plate coloration.

Geographical Range:   Kodiak Island, Alaska to Baja California, Mexico

Depth Range:  Intertidal to 10 m

Habitat:  Under rocks and ledges, often on exposed coasts

Biology/Natural History:  This species feeds on sponges, hydroids, bryozoans, and tunicates.  It is often found feeding on the red social tunicate Metandrocarpa taylori.  Some of these as well as tube worms may encrust its plates.  A scaleworm may be in the mantle cavity.  M. ferreirai may actually be part of this species.



Dichotomous Keys:
  Kozloff 1987, 1996 (see also Baldwin's key)

General References:
  Harbo, 1997
  O'Clair and O'Clair, 1998
  Sept, 1999

Scientific Articles:
Cowan, G.I. and I. McT. Cowan, 1977.  A new chiton of the genus Mopalia from the northeast Pacific coast.  Syesis 10: pp 45-52

Kelly, R.P., I.N. Sarkar, D.J. Ernisse, and R. DeSalle, 2007.  DNA barcoding using chitons (genus Mopalia).  Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 177-183

Web sites:

General Notes and Observations:  Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2008):  Created original page
CSS coding for page developed by Jonathan Cowles (2007)