Rough Star Coral, Isophyllastrea rigida is commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean along the shores of the Caribbean Islands, Bahamas and Florida. The fossil sample below is part of a collection gathered in the 70’s and 80’s during Florida vacations my husband’s parents took from their busy lives. Winkie, my mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) faithfully collected sea shells and coral adrift on the beaches, which today is not allowed. Now in my care, it has been my pleasure to research their origins and share them with you on the information highway which she never knew about, but would have been very proud to share.
Rough Star Coral is easily recognized by its small dome-shaped colonies and closely spaced corallites having only a thin margin between them and the polyps are rounded to polygonal in outline. Living colonies of the rough star coral range in color from varying degrees of light green to yellow, usually with the ridges being lighter in color than the darker groove floors.
It belongs to a family of corals called Mussidae originating during the Cenozic Era beginning 65 million years ago. Mussidae is a relatively small family of coral consisting of roughly 13 genera with a wide geographical distribution. Eight genera from Mussidae are found in the Indo-Malayan Western Pacific seas and the remaining four genera, including the Rough Star Coral, Isophyllastrea rigida are Atlantic species.
Below are living Mussidae corals from the genera of Acanthastrea, a showy and colorful breed with meaty polyps living in the Indo-Pacific regions. The similarities and differences from my Atlantic species, Rough Star Coral, Isophyllastrea, rigada, and Acanthastrea requires a close study to discern.
CLASSIFICATION: ROUGH STAR CORAL
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Cnidaria (stinging cells)
- Class: Anthozoa (flower animal)
- Subclass: Hexacorallia (polygon shape)
- Order: Scleratina (stony coral)
- Family: Mussidae (large fleshy polyps)
- Genus: Isophyllastrea
- Species: rigida
Coral: A Simple Animal Simply Explained
Corals exist at the tissue level lacking organs, such as a heart. On the evolutionary ladder, corals are one step above the sponges. They are the simplest animals to have a nervous system, and a connected muscular system, and a dedicated reproductive system.
A video beautifully photographed with vivid colors and depictions of the coral reefs geared for kids, but great for adults as well.