Scientists Discover New Reef Coral Species in the Red Sea

First Posted: Aug 18, 2014 12:07 PM EDT

Scientists may have uncovered a new reef coral species from Saudi Arabia. After investigating a hard coral from the Red Sea, researchers have determined that it is indeed a new species.

The hard coral species is called Pachyseris inattesa, and is part of a genus of corals that are often referred to as "elephant skin corals" or "corduroy corals" due to their wrinkled appearance. These hard corals can help construct reefs, an important part of providing habitat for other animals.

The findings are actually part of a project called "Biodiversity in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea." Initiated in 2012, this project aimed to increase the scientific understanding of the biological diversity present in Saudi Arabian coral reefs.

The coral was actually discovered after scientists conducted a detailed micromorphological and molecular analyses. This confirmed that the coral was a unique and novel lineage. In fact, the coral species seems to be endemic to the Red Sea.

The researchers actually knew of this coral's existence in the past. But it was misidentified in the past. The coral has a superficial resemblance with some common and widespread coral species of the genus Leptoseris. This newest study, though, corrects this misidentification.

"Findings such as those present in this paper continue to highlight how special the Red Sea is an provide even more reasons to make sure that conservation efforts in the region preserve these natural treasures, including those that we have yet to discover," said Michael Berumen, co-author of the new study, in a news release.

The findings reveal a bit more about the Red Sea ecosystem and show how new discoveries are being made every day.

The findings are published in the journal ZooKeys.

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