Coral


Coral
/kawr"euhl, kor"-/, n.
a female given name.

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I
Any of about 2,300 species of marine cnidarians in the class Anthozoa that are characterized by stonelike, horny, or leathery skeletons (external or internal).

The skeletons of these animals are also called coral. Corals are found in warm seas worldwide. The body is of the polyp type. Soft, horny, and blue corals are colonial in habit (i.e., they live in large groups). Stony corals, the most familiar and widely distributed forms, are both colonial and solitary. Atolls and coral reefs, which are composed of stony coral, grow at an average rate of 0.2–1.1 in. (0.5–2.8 cm) per year. See also sea fan.

Soft coral (Sarcophyton)

(Top) Valerie Taylor
Ardea; (bottom) Douglas Faulkner
II
(as used in expressions)

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      any of a variety of invertebrate marine organisms of the class Anthozoa (phylum Cnidaria) that are characterized by skeletons—external or internal—of a stonelike, horny, or leathery consistency. The term coral is also applied to the skeletons of these animals, particularly to those of the stonelike corals.

      Stony corals (order Madreporaria or Scleractinia) number about 1,000 species; black corals and thorny corals (Antipatharia), about 100 species; horny corals, or gorgonians (Gorgonacea), about 1,200 species; and blue corals (Coenothecalia), one living species.

 The body of a coral animal consists of a polyp—a hollow, cylindrical structure attached at its lower end to some surface. At the free end is a mouth surrounded by tentacles. The tentacles, which gather food, are more or less extensible and are armed with specialized stinging structures, called nematocysts, that paralyze prey.

      Eggs and sperm, usually produced by separate individuals, develop as outgrowths in the gastrovascular cavity and are expelled through the mouth into the open water. Fertilization usually takes place in the water but sometimes occurs in the gastrovascular cavity. The larva, a ciliated form known as a planula, swims about for several days or as long as several weeks, then settles onto a solid surface and develops into a polyp. Reproduction also occurs by budding. The bud remains attached to the original polyp. A colony develops by the constant addition and growth of new buds. As new polyps develop, the old ones beneath die, but the skeletons remain.

      Soft coral, horny coral, and blue coral are colonial in habit. Individual polyps have eight feathery tentacles and, in the gastrovascular cavity, eight septa, or partitions. Cilia (tiny hairlike projections) on six septa draw water into the cavity. Cilia on the other two septa expel water. The skeleton is internal. Soft corals, a widely distributed group, have internal skeletons consisting of separate calcareous (calcium-bearing) spicules (needlelike structures). Some species are platelike in form; others (e.g., dead men's fingers, Alcyonium) have fingerlike projections. Horny corals such as sea fans (sea fan) are most numerous in shallow tropical waters. They are ribbonlike or branching in form, sometimes growing to a length of 3 metres (10 feet). They include the so-called precious coral (also called red, or rose, coral) used in jewelry. A common species of precious coral, Corallium rubrum, is found in the Mediterranean Sea. Blue coral, Heliopora coerula, occurs on reefs of stony coral in the Indian and Pacific oceans. It forms lumps up to 2 metres in diameter.

 Stony corals, the most familiar and most widely distributed forms, are both colonial and solitary in habit. They, as well as black and thorny corals, have more than eight septa and simple rather than feathery tentacles. Stony, black, and thorny corals differ from the related sea anemone chiefly in having an external skeleton. Stony corals occur in all oceans from the tidal zone to depths of nearly 6,000 metres (about 20,000 feet). The polyps of colonial forms are 1 to 30 mm (0.04 to 1.2 inches) in diameter. Most living stony corals are yellowish, brownish, or olive, depending on the colour of the algae living on the coral. The skeletons, however, are always white. The largest solitary form, a species of Fungia, grows to a diameter of about 25 cm (10 inches).

      The skeleton of stony coral is almost pure calcium carbonate and is deposited in a cup-shaped form with the polyp inside. The growth rate varies with age, food supply, water temperature, and species. Atolls and coral reefs are composed of stony coral. Such formations grow at an average rate of about 0.5 to 2.8 cm per year. Common types of stony coral include brain coral, mushroom coral, star coral, and staghorn coral, all named because of their appearance.

      Black corals and thorny corals are whiplike, featherlike, or treelike in form or are shaped like a bottle brush. They occur in the Mediterranean Sea, in the West Indies, and off the coast of Panama.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Coral — Cor al, n. [Of. coral, F, corail, L. corallum, coralium, fr. Gr. kora llion.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) The hard parts or skeleton of various Anthozoa, and of a few Hydrozoa. Similar structures are also formed by some Bryozoa. [1913 Webster] Note: The large… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Coral — (Cape Coral,США) Категория отеля: Адрес: Cape Coral, 33990, США Описание …   Каталог отелей

  • coral — [kôr′əl, kär′əl] n. [OFr < L coralium < Gr korallion < ? Heb gōrál, pebble or Ar garal, small stone] 1. the hard, stony skeleton secreted by certain marine polyps (class Anthozoa) and often deposited in extensive masses forming reefs and …   English World dictionary

  • coral — adjetivo 1. Área: música De la música de coro: Los cantos corales encierran cierta solemnidad. sustantivo masculino 1. Corallium rubrum. Animal celentéreo que tiene un esqueleto externo de color rojo o rosado y vive en colonias en mares… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • coral — Es masculino cuando significa ‘celentéreo que vive en colonias, cuyo esqueleto calcáreo pulimentado se usa en joyería’: «Bajo el mar se pueden encontrar algas y corales gigantescos» (Lux Chile [Chile 1997]); y ‘composición vocal propia del culto… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • coral — c.1300, from O.Fr. coral (12c., Mod.Fr.corail), from L. corallium, from Gk. korallion; perhaps of Sem. origin (Cf. Heb. goral small pebble, Arabic garal small stone ), originally just the red variety found in the Mediterranean, hence use of the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Coral — (Франгокастелло,Греция) Категория отеля: Адрес: Frangokastello, Франгокастелло, 73011, Греция …   Каталог отелей

  • Coral — Le nom se rencontre en Lorraine, où il semble désigner un personnage amical, sympathique (sens de l adjectif coral en ancien français). On le trouve également en Catalogne et dans le Sud Ouest, où il peut avoir trois sens : soit un nom de… …   Noms de famille


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