Placiphorella velata Carpenter in Dall, 1879 

Common name(s): Veiled chiton

Synonyms:  Possibly conspecific with P. stimpsoni
Phylum Mollusca
 Class Polyplacophora
  Order Neoloricata
   Suborder Chitonina
    Family Mopaliidae
(Placiphorella velata, about 3 cm long, in cave at Cape Flattery.  Anterior veil is to the left)
(Photo by: Dave Cowles July 2004)
Description:  Chiton up to 5 cm long, has all 8 plates visible, dorsal surface of girdle with long scaly hairs or setae.  Anterior girdle is much wider than elsewhere, often is lighter in color (cream or beige) than the rest of the girdle, and may be held high above the substrate like a veil (also called a head flap).  The valves are short and wide, brownish or reddish, mottled and streaked with white, beige, green, and occasionally black.  Juveniles may have bright spots on valves.  The veil has setae dorsally, bristles on the side, and ventral papillae with several long, fleshy precephalic tentacles anterior and lateral to the head. Body may be overgrown with bryozoans or algae.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:  Veiled chitons are unique--no other chiton has the large veil. Placiphorella rufa (Red-veiled chiton, Aleutians to Oregon) is mostly subtidal, up to 2 cm, and presumably has a red veil.

Geographical Range:  Forester Island, Alaska to Isla Cedros, Baja California and upper Gulf of California

Depth Range:  Very low intertidal and subtidal

Habitat:  Usually in shaded depressions or crevices or under rocks on open coast, usually associated with crustose coralline algae.

Biology/Natural History:  This species can be a grazer on microalgae or a carnivore.  As a carnivore it traps small crustaceans and worms under the veil by lowering it rapidly, "stomping" on them when they crawl beneath it.  Smaller crustaceans (2 mm and below) are swallowed whole.  Larger prey including crabs up to 1 cm across are torn up by the radula before being eaten.  Uncommon.  Spawn in September in California.

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Dichotomous Keys:

Kozloff, 1987, 1996
Smith and Carlton, 1975

General References:
Morris et al., 1980
Kozloff 1993
O'Clair and O'Clair, 1998

Scientific Articles:

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

The pale-colored veil is clearly visible in this photo taken in a cave at Cape Flattery.  Dave Cowles July 2004

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2004):  Created original page