RSS Newly described black coral is one of the oldest living animals in the world

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Leiopathes annosa is a new species of deep sea black coral that was recently discovered living on the seafloor around the waters of Hawaii and the Papahanaumokuakea marine national monument. In addition to being a new and previously unknown species, the description and analysis of Leiopathes annosa revealed that this coral species can live up to 4000 years!

The new species of black coral tall, fan-shaped colonies that are up to three feet high and it has thick branches that sometimes overlap. The living tissue of L. annosa is a bright orange color when alive and we’re sure it makes quite a sight to see in the natural, deep sea environment.

Various pictures of Leiopathes annosa in its natural habitat

Corals growing at such profound depths of 1000 to 1500 feet live in a very cold, very nutrient poor environment and as such, animals that live there must specialize at patience and living a low intensity, low metabolism lifestyle. Black corals develop an internal skeleton which develops growth rings that can be counted like those of a tree.

At four millenia of age, this particular species of black coral is 80% the age of all of recorded history. If it were not for the immortal jellyfishLeiopathes annosa would be the oldest living animal in the world, so far. [ZooTaxa via Papahanaumokuakea]

The skeletal spines are used to estimate the age of this very old growth black coral

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