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All corals younger than the Permo-Triassic mass extinction, including modern corals, belong to the Order Scleractinia. They are distinguished from the Rugosa by their patterns of septal insertion: scleractinian septa are added in sets of six, maintaining a hexameral symmetry throughout life.

The structure of scleractinian corals is generally lighter and more porous than that of the rugose corals. The great differences between the Scleractinia and the Palaeozoic coral groups suggest that scleractinians did not in fact evolve from rugose or tabulate corals but arose from a group of sea anemones.

Click on the two thumbnails below to see examples of fossil scleractinian corals.

Thecosmilia annularis (Fleming)

Corallian Formation, Steeple Ashton.

Cyclolites sp.

Cretaceous, ? South of France.

Cyclolites: Cretaceous - Eocene

Author: Ben Kotrc
Last updated: 21 November 2005
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Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6