A 'coat of mail' shell (Leptochiton scabridus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



An elongate oval mollusc that can reach up to 8 mm long. The shell is composed of 8 arched transverse plates which interlock along their edges. These fragile shell valves are coarsely ridged close to the margins. The surface of valves is granular when viewed under a hand lens. The shell colouration ranges from off-white to a dull orange occasionally with black deposits of manganese or iron. Surrounding the valves is a muscular flap called the girdle and this is quite narrow. The ventral surface of the foot is red in live specimens.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found in the south west of England and more commonly around the Channel Islands. Recently recorded off Lettermore Island, Co. Galway and Broad Water, Co. Donegal, western Ireland.

Global distribution

Recorded from the coast of Brittany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Canaries


Leptochiton scabridus can be found at extreme low water and sublittorally attached to stones or pebbles which are often embedded in sand to a depth of 10-20 cm.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Small, elongated oval chiton up to 8 mm long.
  • Dorsal shell composed of 8 arched transverse plates.
  • Dorsal surface of plates granular under hand lens.
  • Shell valves not keeled and coarsely ridged close to margins.
  • Shell off-white to a dull orange colour.
  • Narrow girdle.
  • Red colouration on ventral surface of foot of live specimens.

Additional information

Leptochiton scabridus was regarded as one of our few endemic British molluscs but recent records indicate a much wider distribution.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. Jones, A.M. & Baxter, J.M., 1987b. Molluscs: Caudofoveata, Solenogastres, Polyplacophora and Scaphopoda. Avon: The Bath Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 37.]

  4. Light, J.M. & Killeen, I.J., 1992. Further notes on Leptochiton scabridus (Jeffreys). Journal of Conchology, 32, 117.

  5. Strack, H.L. 1991. A second record of Leptochiton scabridus (Jeffreys, 1880) from Ireland. Conchologists' Newsletter, 118, 394-395.


  1. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) records for Great Britain and Ireland. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/aurwcz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-07-14


This review can be cited as:

Neish, A.H. 2005. Leptochiton scabridus A 'coat of mail' shell. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 14-07-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1911

Last Updated: 17/10/2005