Armour-plated mollusc fluoresces brilliant red-pink

A chiton (Iscnhoplax pectinata) fluorescing

Guido Grimaldi

Chitons – flat molluscs common in tide pools – have shells that fluoresce a rich red-pink colour when exposed to blue light. The vibrant colours may, surprisingly, help the chitons avoid detection by predators – although other researchers aren’t convinced.

Chitons are an ancient branch of the mollusc family tree. Unlike their snail and clam relatives, chitons’ shells are built from a series of eight separate plates running along their backs.

Some chitons’ plates are coloured in a way that may offer camouflage from predators, says Guido Grimaldi …


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