Stenoplax heathiana Berry, 1946 

Common name(s): 

Phylum Mollusca
 Class Polyplacophora
  Order Neoloricata
    Suborder Chitonina
     Family Ischnochitonidae
Stenoplax heathiana, San Simeon, CA.  Head and plate 1 are to the left
(Photo by: Dave Cowles, 1997)
Description:  This chiton has a much wider plate 8 than plate 1.  The dorsal surface of the girdle has obvious overalapping scales.  The foot is pale.  Up to 6 cm long, about 2x to 3x as long as wide.  Girdle is a light cream color, sometimes with some greenish spots.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species: The wide plate 8 distinguishes from most.  Stenoplax chitons are narrower than most chitons for their length.

Geographical Range: Mendocino County, Northern CA to Puerto Santo Tomas, Baja CA.  Not likely to be found north of California.

Depth Range: Middle and low intertidal

Habitat: Lives under rocks on open coast, especially rocks partly embedded in sand or gravel.

Biology/Natural History:_Mostly nocturnal.  Remains buried in sand on the undersides of rocks during the day.  May be still exposed at dawn.  Feed on drift algae that lodge at the bases of the rocks.  Named for Stanford professor Harold Heath, who made a detailed study of the development of this species in 1899.

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Dichotomous Keys:
Smith and Carlton, 1975
Kozloff 1987, 1996

General References:
Kozloff, 1993
Niesen, 1994
Morris et al., 1980

Scientific Articles:

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

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2005):  Created original page