The 366 daily episodes in 2014 were chronological snapshots of earth history, beginning with the Precambrian in January and on to the Cenozoic in December. You can find them all in the index in the right sidebar. In 2015, the daily episodes for each month were assembled into monthly packages, and a few new episodes were posted. Now, the blog/podcast is on an occasional schedule with diverse topics, and the Facebook Page showcases photos on Mineral Monday and Fossil Friday. Thanks for your interest!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28. Corals





Lithostrotion basaltiforme
The extinction at the end of the Devonian decimated reef-building organisms such as corals. Extinction events typically see a rebound of life following the relatively brief period of extinction, and during the Mississippian corals did begin to make a comeback. We talked about the relatively small carbonate build-ups called Waulsortian Mounds on June 11. Those piles of mud may have been stabilized by the skeletons of animals such as crinoids and corals, but they were nothing like the huge edifices constructed by animals during the
Devonian, and the even larger ones to come in the Permian and even today.  

Corals were still abundant in those warm Mississippian seas, and both colonial and solitary types were common. Tabulate corals were colonial, tall columns growing together with horizontal segments, tabulae, providing the platform on which the individual zooids lived. One species, named Lithostrotion basaltiforme, has a remarkably similar appearance to the polygonal columns of basalt that form as a result of cooling – though the corals are much smaller.

There are biologic features in the Mississippian that can truly be called reefs, although purists might call them bioherms, meaning a relatively tall structure that might be a pile of material or a construction like a true reef, or a combination of both. The words “reef” and “bioherm” are sometimes used almost interchangeably, but to me a reef means a relatively large structure that is mostly composed of the actual skeletons of the animals that lived there, rather than a pile of debris. I’m not a specialist in this area, so take that as just my opinion about the terminology.
—Richard I. Gibson

Drawing from an old text (public domain)

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