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Cretaceous “living fossil” coral found

octocoral/Yu Miyazaki

From ScienceDaily:

Research conducted in Okinawa, Japan, by graduate student Yu Miyazaki and associate professor James Davis Reimer from the University of the Ryukyus has found a very unusual new species of octocoral from a shallow coral reef in Okinawa, Japan. The new species can be considered a “living fossil,” and is related in many ways to the unusual blue coral. More.

The blue coral apparently dates from the Cretaceous period.

Note: Some of us think that the term “living fossil” should be replaced by durable species:

We human beings aren’t “living fossils” just because someone can dig up the bones of our ancestors and find out that they looked and lived a lot like us! So what is the term really doing in science anyway? More.

Here’s the abstract:

A new genus and species of octocoral with a calcium-carbonate skeleton, Nanipora kamurai sp. n., is described from a shallow coral reef in Okinawa, Japan. Contrary to most octocorals, the skeleton is composed of crystalline aragonite as in blue coral Heliopora. The results of molecular phylogenetic analyses of sequences of mtMutS, COI, and ITS1-5.8s-ITS2-28S region suggest Nanipora gen. n. specimens should be included in order Helioporacea. Based on morphological results compared with other Helioporacea including the genus Epiphaxum (family Lithotelestidae), we establish the new genus Nanipora within Lithotelestidae. This is the first time that a close molecular phylogenetic relationship between Heliopora and a related genus within Helioporacea has been revealed. (Public access) – Yu Miyazaki, James D. Reimer. A new genus and species of octocoral with aragonite calcium-carbonate skeleton (Octocorallia, Helioporacea) from Okinawa, Japan. ZooKeys, 2015; 511: 1 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.511.9432

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Living fossil was founded on the idea that creatures evolved away into new things and so great time eliminated any original creatures. Then they find them and so presto a living fossil. In fact no fossils date back more then 4500 years ago. Just keep looking and more will be found. Robert Byers

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