Really Old Coral – Over 2,000 Years Old

Posted on February 18, 2008  Comments (3)

photo of sea coral (leiopathes_glaberrima)

Worlds oldest animal aged to 4000 years

deep-sea gold corals (Geradia sp.) and black corals (Leiopathes glaberrima, pictured left) indicate these animals live between two and four millennia

The new findings break all records previously claimed for marine invertebrates like the cold seep tubeworms (estimated 200 years old), quahog clams (estimated 400 years old), as well as the deep-sea wannabees Primnoa spp. and bamboo corals (45 – 300 years old). Given the new results, deep-sea animals can finally measure up to the longevity of the “Methuselah tree”, the Bristlecone Pine, estimated to be near 5000 years old.

perhaps the most important thing to mention is that gold and black corals are colonial zoantharians. No single polyp is thought to be this old, just the skeletal axis.

How is Coral an animal?

Coral is an animal that belongs to the phylum cnidaria…
During the mating season coral polyp release eggs and sperm into the water (picture below) and when an egg and a sperm meet they form a larva known as a planula…
The baby coral looks like a little tiny jellyfish and it floats around in the water until it finds a hard place to attach to, usually a coral reef. Then it lands and starts to build itself a shell. It builds it by combining carbon dioxide (CO2) and calcium (Ca) in the water to make calcium carbonate (CaCO3) also known as limestone. This shell is shaped like a round vase and the coral polyp lives inside…

Related: South Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawlingBatfish Key to Keeping Reefs CleanBdelloid Rotifers Abandoned Sex 100 Million Years Ago

3 Responses to “Really Old Coral – Over 2,000 Years Old”

  1. Angela
    February 26th, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that corals are animals. They look like plants to me. Or have I got it all wrong? – is the ‘plant’ the coral reef (as shown in the image you have there). If so, where’s the actual coral?

    Sorry if I sound stupid. But stupid is a form of curiosity nonetheless. 🙂

    In any case, I think it’s amazing that these particular corals were able to live so long. How were they able to?

  2. Chris
    July 17th, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

    Corals truly are amazing animals. I have a 38 gallon coral reef aquarium in my house, and from watching them, you’d see that they are in fact animals. I feed some of them individualy (some of them have clear distinct mouths) and they will use different mechanisms to grasp and eat the food. Some of them have little feeder tentacles that reach out and grab the food and pull it into their mouth. It’s really amazing to see!

  3. Nataly
    December 21st, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

    Wow that’s cool. Afraid to think which sea creatures this corall have seen!

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