/kuyt"n, kuy"ton/, n.1. Also called sea cradle. a mollusk of the class Amphineura, having a mantle covered with calcareous plates, found adhering to rocks.2. a gown or tunic, with or without sleeves, worn by both sexes in ancient Greece.
* * *▪ clothinggarment worn by Greek men and women from the Archaic period (c. 750–c. 500 BC) through the Hellenistic period (323–30 BC). Essentially a sleeveless shirt, the chiton was a rectangular piece of linen (Ionic chiton) or wool (Doric chiton) draped by the wearer in various ways and kept in place at the shoulders by brooches (fibulae) and at the waist by a belt. Excess fabric (the chiton was longer than the wearer was tall) was pulled up under the belt in blouse fashion. At all times the chiton was worn at ankle length by women.During the Archaic period, Greek men wore a long chiton; thereafter, except for charioteers, priests, and the elderly, they wore a knee-length version. Sleeved chitons were worn by actors and priests. Patterns and colours varied with the times and with the status of the wearer. The chiton is well illustrated in the caryatid (q.v.) porch of the Erechtheum in Athens.▪ molluskany of numerous flattened, bilaterally symmetrical marine mollusks, worldwide in distribution but most abundant in warm regions. The approximately 600 species are usually placed in the class Placophora, Polyplacophora, or Loricata (phylum Mollusca).Chitons are usually oval in shape. On the dorsal (upper) surface is a row of eight overlapping plates surrounded or covered by a tough girdle. Chitons use a large, flat foot for creeping along and clinging to rocks; they also have a well-developed radula (filelike structure) with which to scrape algae and other plant food from rocks. On either side of the foot is a groove containing the gills.About 5 cm (2 inches) is the maximum length of most chitons, but Cryptochiton stelleri, of the Pacific coast of North America, may grow to about 43 cm. Chitons are very flexible and can fit snugly into rock crevices or curl into a ball when detached. They can also adhere so firmly to rocks that they may be injured when pried loose.Chitons, especially in warm areas, are usually found in the intertidal zone or in shallow water. In colder regions more species inhabit deeper water to about 4,000 m (13,000 feet), although some have been found to depths of 7,000 m. Most are nocturnal in habit. The tremendous numbers of free-swimming young (trochophores) are an important element in the marine plankton.
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