June 4, 2013
New Genus, Species Of Coral Found In Well-Documented Region
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Scientists generally believe that they have pretty well explored the flora and fauna of the American west coast. But a new study and taxonomic assessment of the octocorals from the northeastern Pacific Ocean, published in Zookeys, proves this belief wrong, with the discovery of two new beautiful and colorful species of soft corals alongside a new genus.
"It is remarkable that in a region previously thought to be as familiar and well known as the west coast of North America — with its numerous large urban centers and major marine laboratories — revisionary systematics are not only still possible, but essential for our understanding of global biodiversity," comments Dr. Gary Williams from the California Academy of Sciences.
The research team describes four aspects of the North American west coast fauna, including new species of pale orange stoloniferous soft coral found near San Diego, California. The team also developed a revisionary assessment of a well-known soft coral previously misidentified as Gersemia rubiformis from the Pacific Northwest, as well as a description of a new species of Gersemia, found in colonies ranging from beautiful pink to reddish coloration, from the coast of British Columbia.
A new genus described by the team was named for a species previously placed in a tropical Indo-Pacific genus for the past century. This species inhabits the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and several other localities on the Pacific Coast. Globally, there are around 3,400 species of octocorals. The majority of the octocoral taxa was described in the 19th and 20th centuries, however much of this colorful fauna is in fact only minimally studied and continues to surprise scientists with new discoveries.
Images Below: (LEFT) This image shows the polyps of the newly discovered pale-orange Cryptophyton jedsmithi. Credit: Jeff Goddard (CC-BY 3.0) | (RIGHT) This image shows the pink polyps of the new species Gersemia lambi. Credit: Marc Chamberlain (CC-BY 3.0)