Sclerophyllia margariticola is a new species of small, solitary LPS coral from the Red Sea recently described in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity. The genus Sclerophyllia was first erected in 1879 and it was resurrected to include this new species as well as the oft-misidentified Sclerophyllia (=Acanthastrea) maxima.
The newly described Sclerophyllia margariticola is a relatively small species of LPS coral that has calyces up to 15mm in diameter with small specimens being more rounded and larger specimens tending towards oval or even triangular and up to 35mm across. The description of Sclerophyllia margariticola is light on ecological information and very heavy on taxonomic jargon.
What strikes us about this new species of stony coral is how much it resembles the mini scolies that the hobby has been receiving from Western Australia. Some of the images of living specimens of S. margariticola exhibit a somewhat more spiny appearance but the two specimens in the lower half of the image above look like dead ringers for the mini scolies that we’ve spent plenty of time looking at over the last few years.
The resurrection of Sclerophyllia with the newly described S. margariticola and the newly moved Sclerophyllia maxima comes at a good time to help us sort out lots of loose ends in the Lobophyllidae coral family. We look forward to many more species of stony coral this year as we are expecting lots of new stony corals to finally receive a proper species description.