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The newly discovered coral could be as old as 4000 years!

Scientists working with NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History say they have discovered a species of black coral that is over 4,000 years old, which would make it the oldest marine organism living on Earth! Leiopathes annosa, has a golden brown colour and a tree-like structure typical of corals.
Published: July 21, 2015 - 21:05
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 11:21
The newly discovered coral could be as old as 4000 years!

Scientists working with NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History say they have discovered a species of black coral that is over 4,000 years old, which would make it the oldest marine organism living on Earth!

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Leiopathes annosa, has a golden brown colour and a tree-like structure typical of corals. This unusual coral can be found at depths of around 300-500 metres, in waters near Hawaii and in particular at Papahanaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Its name is also no coincidence. In Latin, ‘annosa’ means ‘long-lived’.

leiopathes-figure-copy

“We know so little about the ocean depths that we often don’t even know how to name the species that inhabit them,” says NOAA’s Daniel Wagner, who, along with Dennis Opresko of the Smithsonian, detailed the find in Zootaxa magazine.

“Describing and naming them is an important first step to facilitate future research into these important and unusual organisms. This research shows how much we can learn and know by studying creatures from the marine depths, only a small fraction of which have been studied.” – Wagner continues.

Measuring about a metre tall, the coral was already known to researchers, but was initially mistakenly taken for L. Glaberrima, a species found in the Mediterranean Sea. After comparing about 20 representatives found in Hawaii, Wagner and Opresko concluded that they were dealing with a completely new species.

The researchers collected samples of the coral thanks to a special underwater robot and then determined their age using ascending rings, similar to what happens when checking the age of trees on land

Source: cbsnews.com.

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Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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