Soft body reconstructions of Palaeozoic corals: implications for the system of Anthozoa (Coelenterata)

Authors


Michael Gudo [m.gudo@em.uni-frankfurt.de], Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Senckenberganlage 25, DE-60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany;

Abstract

The soft bodies and individual developmental sequences of the polyps of Palaeozoic corals are reconstructed on the basis of the functional, engineering and constructional morphology of Recent Anthozoa. Four types of body construction can be distinguished by the arrangement of mesenteries, the number of mesentery insertion zones and characteristic septal insertion patterns: (1) serial insertion of single mesenteries in four sectors, which has resulted in the serial insertion of septa, (2) symmetrical insertion of single mesenteries in four sectors, which has resulted in a symmetrical septal pattern or pseudo radial septal patterns, (3) exponential insertion of paired mesenteries in four sectors, which has resulted in septa bifurcation, and (4) exponential insertion of paired mesenteries in six sectors, which has resulted in a radial septal pattern. Suggestions for a constructional taxonomy are given on the basis of the arrangement of mesenteries and on individual development of the reconstructed polyps. Accordingly, new superorders are introduced: 'Seriales’ for the first body construction and 'Symmetricales’ for the second. The third body construction is that of the Heterocorallia and the fourth that of the Hexacorallia. Following a constructional taxonomy, new and stricter definitions are given for the new and already known taxonomic categories of Rugosa, Heterocorallia and Hexacorallia. A byproduct of this re-definition is that several Palaeozoic corals represent the body construction of the Hexacorallia and should therefore be revised as Hexacorallia; consequently, Hexacorallia must already have been present in the Palaeozoic.

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