New family of corals described

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A new family of corals has been described, putting the current classification of corals in dispute, says a report from Newswise.

The research, led by workers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, has just been published in Nature and described a new family of corals from the Atlantic Ocean.

The group used modern DNA techniques to examine the phylogenetic relationship (a sort of evolutionary family tree) between the corals and detected a previously unknown divergence between those found in the Atlantic and those from the Pacific.

The DNA phylogeny differs from the current morphology-based one, which looks at coral structures. It shows that about 30% of Atlantic corals, which were originally placed in two separate families, are in fact close relatives of each other. However, they differ significantly from Pacific corals, which were previously considered their relatives.