A Cretaceous Scleractinian Coral with a Calcitic Skeleton

Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 92-94
DOI: 10.1126/science.1149237

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It has been generally thought that scleractinian corals form purely aragonitic skeletons. We show that a well-preserved fossil coral, Coelosmilia sp. from the Upper Cretaceous (about 70 million years ago), has preserved skeletal structural features identical to those observed in present-day scleractinians. However, the skeleton of Coelosmilia sp. is entirely calcitic. Its fine-scale structure and chemistry indicate that the calcite is primary and did not form from the diagenetic alteration of aragonite. This result implies that corals, like other groups of marine, calcium carbonate–producing organisms, can form skeletons of different carbonate polymorphs.

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