Scientists describe two new gorgonian soft coral species

November 15, 2013
This image shows living specimens of one of the new species, Eugorgia mutabilis, near Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Credit: C. Sánchez

Gorgonians are a type of soft corals easily distinguishable by the complex branching shape, which has also probably inspired their name, coming from the Gorgon Medusa- a creature from the Greek mythology that had hair made of venomous snakes. The existence of Medusa outside myth might be debatable, but gorgonian corals do exist and decorate our ocean with complex patterns and vibrant colors.

A recent study in the open access journal Zookeys reveals two of these beautiful soft coral species, discovered in the waters of the Pacific. The two new species belong to the gorgoniid genus Eugorgia, which is exclusively found in the eastern Pacific. It has a wide geographic and bathymetric range of distribution, found from California to Peru and extends down to 65 m deep.

The genus Eugorgia is recognised for their vibrant colored colonies decorating the ocean bottom. The white color has been reported only for one species, Eugorgia alba, but this research adds two more pale representatives within the genus. Both new species E. beebei and E. mutabilis are characterized by pure white color, with the only difference that the latter changes coloration to pale pink and later to a pale gray, when taken out of water.

The Gorgons of the eastern Pacific: scientists describe 2 new gorgonian soft coral species
This image shows Eugorgia mutabilis colonies in Montaña Rusa, Islas Contreras, Panamá, 32 m deep. Credit: O. Breedy

"These new species increases the number of in the genus to 15", comments Dr. Breedy, Universidad de Costa Rica, "This is an important contribution to the knowledge of the eastern Pacific octocoral biodiversity."

Explore further: The giant cockroach genus Pseudophoraspis expands to the north with three new species

More information: ZooKeys 350: 75. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.350.6117

Related Stories

A new species of yellow slug moth from China

June 4, 2013

The moth genus Monema is represented by medium-sized yellowish species. The genus belongs to the Limacodidae family also known as the slug moths due to the distinct resemblance of their caterpillars to some slug species. ...

Unearthed: A treasure trove of jewel-like beetles

October 15, 2013

The bottomless pit of insect biodiversity has yielded a treasure trove of new species of jewel-like clown beetles. In a paper published today in the journal ZooKeys, Michael Caterino and Alexey Tishechkin of the Santa Barbara ...

A new scorpion species from ancient Lycia

November 8, 2013

Scientists discover and describe a new species of scorpion, Euscorpius lycius, coming from the area of ancient Lycia, nowadays the regions of the Muğla and Antalya Provinces in Southwestern Turkey. With the new discovery, ...

Recommended for you

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...

Gene editing: Research spurs debate over promise vs. ethics

October 9, 2015

The hottest tool in biology has scientists using words like revolutionary as they describe the long-term potential: wiping out certain mosquitoes that carry malaria, treating genetic diseases like sickle-cell, preventing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.