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The Anthozoa, including amongst others corals and sea anemones, forms a class within the phylum of the “Cnidaria”. Representatives in the fossil record are known since the Cambrian period, in particular the corals, who are very commonly found as fossils in former (sub) tropical marine sediments. Corals are in fact colonies of polyp-like creatures that occur mainly in tropical seas . As result of the asexual reproduction of single coral polyp entire colonies emerge, building giant reefs over time. Corals can also occur in colder waters, but they do not tend build big reefs structures like the ones in (sub) tropical waters, but there are exceptions to this rule.
Calceola sandalina , a recognizable solitary coral from the Belgian Devonian
Most corals belong to the orders of Rugosa, Tabulata and Scleractina. Tabulata or Tabulate corals are always colony forming, but Rugosa often occur as solitary coral structures. Their skeleton mainly consists of calcite (CaCo3). Tabulata & Rugosa corals occurred from the Ordovician era until their extinction by the end of the Permian era.
Corals belonging to the Scleractina order, evolved and expanded, since the Middle Triassic. To this day they remain one of the main reef building organisms. Their skeleton is composed of aragonite (mineral variety of calcium that easily dissolves). We usually find their remains as stone cores and printings. The fossils one finds, are usually the remaining small chambers and rooms in which the polyps lived.
Example of a Rugose coral
Worldwide corals are found within the numerous limestone marine deposits. Most prominent, are the deposits from the Devonian and Carboniferous period, which are exploited for the production of building stones since historical and even pre-historical times.
Photos or locations for Anthozoa on this site
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