Chitons have a shell on their back made upof eight separate shell plates or valves. On different species the plates have different colours, patterns and testures. These plates (made from calcium carbonate) overlap a little at the front and back edges but the plates can still move separately. This means that the plates provide protection from above but still allow them to curl up into a ball if they are lifted.
There are between 900 to 1,000 species of Chiton worldwide, Australia has about 150 species and 90% of these are native to Australia. Most species are quite small (between 2 and 5 cm long). The largest rarely exceed 30 cm.
All chitons are marine, living, in cold water and in the tropics, mostly in intertidal or subtidal zones.
They live on hard surfaces, such as on or under rocks, or hidden in rock crevices. Some species live quite high in the intertidal zone and are exposed to air and sunlight for many hours each day. A few species live in deep water, as deep as 6,000 m.