Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

azooxanthellate
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Comprehensive Description

Letepsammia formosissima is one of 14 living species in the deep-sea coral family Micrabaciidae, some of which occur to a depth of 5000 meters. Based on research being done in part by Smithsonian scientist Stephen Cairns, the unique microstructure, unique gross morphology, and molecular sequencing analyses are all indicating this to be the most ancestral family in the order of stony corals. (Stephen Cairns, in litt. June 2010)

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Biology: Skeleton

More info
AuthorSkeleton?Mineral or Organic?MineralPercent Magnesium
Cairns, 1984 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Dawson, 1992 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, 1994 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Zibrowius and Grygier, 1985 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns and Keller, 1993 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, 1995 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, 1998 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, Hoeksema, and van der Land, 1999 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
Cairns, 1989 YES MINERAL ARAGONITE
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© Hexacorallians of the World

Source: Hexacorallians of the World

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Distribution

Southern Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, 97-470 m

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Physical Description

Morphology

Original description (H.N. Moseley, 1876):

Stephanophyllia formosissima, sp. n.

The corallum is discoid, with the base flat in the centre and slightly curved towards the margin. It is white and very light and fragile, much more so than in S. complicata, being composed of a fine trabecular network through which the light penetrates freely, as through a fine sieve, when the coral is held up to the light. The base is composed of a series of fine, radiating, costal rods connected by transverse trabeculae, which have a general concentric disposition. The septa are composed, like the remainder of the corallum, of fused trabeculae; but these are stouter than those composing the base, and more perfectly fused, so as to form, in most regions, continuous plates pierced by rounded perforations. There are six systems of septa and five cycles. The upper margins of the septa rise in a curve from points distant a short space from the margin ot the calicle, and, ascending to some height above the level of the base, sink down again internally to the wide, oval fossa occupied by the columella.

The primary and secondary septa are straight. Their upper margins lie at a lower level than those of the remaining septa, and are only very slightly toothed. The primary septa are free from adherence. The margins of the tertiary, quaternary, and quiniary septa are deeply dentate, the teeth being curved towards the columella. The quinary, quaternary, and tertiary septa fuse with one another laterally and by their upper margins at successive distances from the periphery of the corallum, forming six deltoid masses of septa. The tertiary septa, forming the sides of these deltoid masses, are bent over, sloping away from the primary septa, so that at the apex of the delta the upper margins of these tertiary septa fuse and cover over the inner ends of the secondary septa. There is no separation of the septal interspaces into chambers, as in S. florealis, by development of synapticulae; but the quaternary and quinary septa are more or less bent over above, so as to fuse along part of their upper margins, and roof in the spaces between them. The septa correspond to the interspaces between the costae. The columella is a large, oval, spongy mass composed of fine trabeculae.

Measurements of the largest specimens: extreme diameter 3-9 centims.; extreme height 1.1 centim. Other specimens measure in diameter about 2-5 centims. and 2 centims. This coral was obtained near the Ke Islands together with S. complicata, and also found living with Euplectella aspergillum at Cebu, Philippines, in 95 fathoms. Several living specimens have been preserved in spirit for future examination of the soft parts. In the living animal the disk is of a madder-red colour, much darker towards the margin of the calicle. The tentacles are simple and conical; the inner are white with dark madder tips, and the outer of a light madder colour with vivid emerald-green radial stripes on either side of their bases. The margin of the mouth is white. The corallum is conspicuously white, the fleshy coloured parts of the coral not extending to the very edge of the calicle. A white zone thus sets off the dark-coloured central parts of the coral.

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 300 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 98 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 55 - 780
  Temperature range (°C): 7.341 - 21.738
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.714 - 31.378
  Salinity (PPS): 34.274 - 35.481
  Oxygen (ml/l): 1.925 - 5.401
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.172 - 2.168
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.070 - 55.817

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 55 - 780

Temperature range (°C): 7.341 - 21.738

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.714 - 31.378

Salinity (PPS): 34.274 - 35.481

Oxygen (ml/l): 1.925 - 5.401

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.172 - 2.168

Silicate (umol/l): 2.070 - 55.817
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Dispersal

Depth range

97-500 m
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Systematics and Taxonomy

Junior synonyms of Letepsammia formosissima (Moseley, 1876) include:

Stephanophyllia superstes Ortmann, 1888
Stephanophylia japonica Yabe and Eguchi, 1934

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