Chitons are one of the oldest marine creatures that exist within the kelp-forests of our oceans. They are relatively common and can be found in ocean waters across the globe, therefore they are not classified as an endangered species. They vary in colour and size according to their species, and are often found buried in the sand or upon rocky reefs.
The physical architecture of the chiton is identical all over the world; their exterior is made up of eight shell plates or valves that articulate well with one another, and are encircled by a skirted girdle. The exterior sits upon a central foot which the Chiton uses for fastening on to rocks and solid substrate, as well as for locomotion.
Within the design of the chiton we can observe the striking intelligence of nature; The exterior plates aid protection, however simultaneously give flexibility when needed.
This yin and yang contrast of possessing both stability and flexibility may be the chiton’s secret to surviving and adapting to face the ever-changing environment over millions of years.
As a human being, these characteristics can be a template for how to build a strong personality: A strong girdle of values and purpose that holds us together. A strong body that protects us and also gives us enough flexibility to move and adapt.
Scientists have researched the chitons´ adaptability because they are predominantly found within the intertidal zone; one of the most stressful and impacting environments for marine creatures to live. This environment experience’s extreme shifts in temperature, salinity, PH and oxygen concentrations. These marine molluscs belong to the ecologically dominant organisms in this extreme environment, symbolizing an ideal model to understand stress adaptation of cells.
As we can observe, there is a lot to learn about the intricacies of this incredibly animal, and these observations can be translated to that of our lives and thus used as insightful tools.
What we can learn from the chiton
The chiton has an amazing resilience. It has survived millions of years, and we can observe this in the somewhat Jurassic appearance of this animal, as well as within a certain ancient energy that surrounds them.
As one of the oldest species that we are able to see in the ocean if we search for it, their wisdom of existing through so many ages can teach us a fair amount about adaptation, and the continuation of moving through life with a steadfast ease and rooted energy.
The analogy for life and leadership is the ability of the chiton to use its special suction-foot to ground itself wherever it chooses to be. Once it has rooted itself in the ground, it gains balance and stability, even when storms and strong currents occur. Therefore, the chiton stands its ground. Besides its ability to root itself, even in tough conditions, there is another capacity that is interesting:
The Chiton feeds upon algae and uses its metabolism in the most effective way. Moreover, it has extremely good sensory tactile, chemical and lights-sensitive neuronal organs to constantly read its environment.
My personal take-aways
1. This species can seem “unspectacular” at first glance – sometimes we are surprised about the amazing capabilities of a certain species that many people may not even know the name of. Therefore, it is important for me and my team to be ambassadors for these unknown survival heroes of the ocean. And the chiton is just one of so many other amazing species that we may observe and learn from.
2. Resilience and adaptability in life and leadership involves being able to deal with adversities and thrive while facing difficult situations. The chiton´s favorite place is where it experiences most changes and exposure to tides, different pH, temperatures, oxygen and salinity. We can learn from the chiton that we need to expose ourselves to adversity rather than avoid it to learn how to cope with every situation in life, thriving and growing as we learn to master adversities with calm and flexibility.
3. I will take a picture of the chiton for some time as a screensaver to remind myself of what tenacity, sensitivity and adaptability means.
4. And what is your main take-away? Please share it with us your thoughts.
Academics.smcvt.edu. 2021. Chitons. [online] Available at: <http://academics.smcvt.edu/dfacey/AquaticBiology/Coastal%20Pages/Chitons.html#:~:text=The%20foot%20of%20chitons%20is,cup%20(Pratt%2C%201935)>
Branch, G., n.d. Two oceans.
En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Chiton. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiton>
Photocredit: Chryssea Michaela Johnson