Vendrasco, Michael Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
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A class within the phylum Mollusca whose members are popularly called chitons, coat-of-mail shells, or sea cradles. The class Polyplacophora (alternatively Loricata) lies within the phylum Mollusca and comprises the chitons. Members of classes Polyplacophora and Aplacophora were formerly combined in the single class Amphineura, but this has been discontinued as a valid taxonomic grouping. All chitons are marine, and they typically live in the intertidal zone, although some live in deeper waters. They are found from subarctic to tropical latitudes, but are most abundant in warmer waters. There are roughly 900 to 1000 chiton species living today that have been described. Other common names for the chitons are coat-of-mail shells, sea cradles, and polyplacophorans. The two extant orders of chitons are Chitonida and Lepidopleurida. See also: Aplacophora; Mollusca
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