Devonian Fossil Coral
Devonian Fossil Coral
In the Devonian period, Earth was covered with vast oceans full of life. The first fish had begun to evolve and make their homes among the colorful coral reefs of the sea. These reefs were like undersea forests, providing shelter, nutrients, and a breeding ground for many different species of animals.
Coral itself is a marine invertebrate that builds an exoskeleton from calcium carbonate in communal formations. These formations are excellent material for fossilization and are able to be preserved in fantastic detail. This specimen is a piece of one such formation from the Devonian fossil beds of Assa Zag, Morocco. It is estimated to be around 360,000,000 years old.
The specimen ships in a padded box along with an informational card which serves as certificate of authenticity. Every piece is a unique pattern of fossil formation, with excellent detail of the prehistoric creature.
Devonian Era Fossils
Within the prehistoric oceans, colonies of stunning coral reefs were home to all sorts of ancient sea life. These 300 million-year-old colonies are still preserved today as highly detailed fossils thanks to their rigid calcium carbonate exoskeletons.
Coral is a marine invertebrate that lives in large colonies called reefs. They first appeared in the fossil record over 530 million years ago and their descendants have survived into the modern day. Coral fossils are found around the world and are windows into the prehistoric world, showing us what life was like in the deep past.
📸 A sample coral fossil
This specimen is a fragment of Devonian fossil coral from the Assa Zag beds of Morocco. It is estimated to date back 360,000,000 years when oceans submerged the land. The size of each fossil ranges from 2.5" to 4".
The patterns present in these specimens are breathtaking. Each piece contains an intricately detailed impression of the prehistoric coral colony they were made from.
Each fossil coral specimen ships in a sturdy shipping carton and comes with an informational photo card which serves as certificate of authenticity.
First Appearance: 530,000,000 years ago
MORE ABOUT FOSSIL CORAL
The Prehistoric Seas
Over 350 million years ago, during the Devonian period, activity on the Earth’s surface was confined to seedless land plants and early tetrapods, but beneath the surface of a globe-spanning ocean, the waters swirled with life. Dubbed “The Age of Fishes,” the oceans of the Devonian were filled with armored Placoderm fish and vicious ammonites competing for prey. Beneath all the action, however, this ecosystem was supported by coral reefs, the backbone that allowed for this menagerie of life.
Coral are small invertebrates that build tight-knit colonies, secreting a calcium carbonate exoskeleton that forms reefs. These reefs are vital to any underwater ecosystem since they provide shelter as well as feeding and mating grounds to a variety of undersea life. In turn, fish feed off algae and deposit nutrients like phosphorous (via their urine), supporting the coral reefs and creating a harmonious symbiotic relationship.
📸 A close look at the patterns present in the coral
During the Devonian period, coral communities were mainly comprised of the horn-shaped Rugosa and honeycomb-like Tabulata. These coral colonies sprang up primarily in deep waters, while stromatoporoid sea sponges formed reefs closer to the coasts.
These reefs could be small, supporting a few fish, or they could span thousands of miles, like the 3,000 mile reef belt extending from Nevada to Canada’s Ellesmere Island. That is twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef off Australia!
The calcium carbonate structures of the coral exoskeleton have proven to be incredible for fossilization. The mineral has allowed the intricate patterns of the coral body plan to be etched into stone over millions of years, preserving it as a beautiful piece of prehistoric life.
Coral is very sensitive to its environment, especially changes in water temperature. Rugosa and Tabulata both survived past their tenure during the Devonian until the Permian-Triassic extinction event, a “Great Dying” that wiped out 80% of marine life. As the climate shifted, the oceans grew hotter and acidified, wiping out the coral and the lifeforms they supported.
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card
University of Georgia. "Fish have enormous nutrient impacts on marine ecosystems, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2012.
Young, Gavin C. "Placoderms (armored fish): dominant vertebrates of the Devonian period." Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 38 (2010): 523-550.
Zapalski, M.K., Baird, A.H., Bridge, T. et al. Unusual shallow water Devonian coral community from Queensland and its recent analogues from the inshore Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 40, 417–431 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-020-02048-9