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Abstract

Phylum Cnidaria, Class Anthozoa

  • Subclass Zoantharia — Ordovician (Cambrian ?)- Recent

    • Order Tabulata — Early Ordovician-Late Permian

  • Possible tabulate corals have been reported from the Early Cambrian (Sorauf and Savarese, 1995). The group was widespread and diverse from Late Ordovician to Middle Devonian, but declined in Late Devonian and into the Carboniferous. The group became extinct during the great end-Permian faunal crisis.

Tabulate corals were fully marine, sessile organisms and were contributors to stromatoporoid and microbial reefs and bioherms of Ordovician to Carboniferous age. Although substantial contributors to some reefs, tabulates rarely were dominant reef framework formers. Tabulate corals did build smaller, isolated bioherms that are widely distributed in muddy, open shelf carbonate rocks.

Many tabulate corals were attached to their substrates, others were unattached, rolling free on the sea floor.

Whether tabulate corals had a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellate analogs, and therefore were restricted to living in the photic zone, is an open question because such soft tissues are not preserved. Environmental reconstructions, however, indicate that tabulates lived at shallow marine depths within the photic zone, so an analogous symbiotic relationship is possible, but has neither been proven nor refuted.

Virtually all tabulate corals probably were originally calcitic; very few (probably on the Tetradiidae, a group that is not universally classed with the tabulates) may have been aragonitic. Determination of original mineralogy is based mainly on the quality of structural preservation.

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