Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A new octocoral: Briareum cylindrum

Octocorals resemble the stony corals in general appearance and in the size of their polyps, but lack the distinctive stony skeleton. Also unlike the real corals, each polyp has only eight tentacles, each of which is feather-like in shape, with numerous side-branches. They are colonial organisms, with numerous tiny polyps embedded in a soft matrix forming the visible structure of the colony.

The new species was found off the coast of Malaysia and named cylindrical shape of its sclerites. 

For the experts: The status of Indo-Pacific Briareum species (Cnidaria, Octocorallia, Briareidae) is reviewed by presenting their sclerite features and habitus descriptions. Following the re-examination of type material, museum specimens and newly collected specimens, a species identification key is provided. The species distributions are discussed and updated distribution ranges are depicted. Moreover, a new taxon, B. cylindrum sp. n. is described and depicted, whereas B. excavatum (Nutting, 1911) is synonymised with B. stechei (K√ľkenthal, 1908). Briareum hamrum (Gohar, 1948) is recorded from the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea for the first time. Consequently, in total four Briareum species are recognized in the Indo-Pacific; B. hamrum from the western Indian Ocean, and B. cylindrum sp. n., B. stechei, and B. violaceum from the central and eastern Indo-Pacific region.

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