Australomussa’s place on the LPS branch of the coral tree of life has always been a little bit murky – today we learn a little bit more about where it belongs, and who its friends are. Parascolymia rowleyensis is the new name for the coral that we reef aquarists call Australomussa and it joins Parascolymia vitiensis in the relatively newly minted genus.
It’s interesting to note that more than twenty years ago Veron made a footnote in Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific that the then named Australomussa rowleyensis and Scolymia vitiensis could look very similar and now we know why. The repositioning of Australomussa into the genus Parascolymiai also sheds some light to tis general affinities with other species of corals and it turns out now to be in the family Lobophylliidae together with Lobophyllia and Symphyllia.
If the relocation of Australomussa into the Parascolymia makes sense taxonomically, then we’d have to say it also makes sense ecologically as both of these corals prefer sheltered environmental conditions with moderate flow and light intensity. So once again two corals which we thought were mussids turn out to be something else, today with Australomussa and earlier this year with the description of Blastomussa vivida and the evidence to suggest this coral is most closely related to bubble corals.
Sometimes, most of the times, redescriptions of corals we know and love are exercises in counting of extremely minute detail and don’t really tell us anything new. However in this case we learn that the new corals of the genus Parascolymia are more like Lobophyllia LPS corals and this new information should help us better understand their general care requirements in reef tanks. [Contributions to Zoology]