If there’s one thing we love about corals the most, it’s that they don’t play by the same rules as other animals. Corals are able to exhibit a whole array of seemingly impossible biological phenomenon, including the ability to be two individuals, fused into one, a condition which is called Chimerism.
Chimeras can occur in a variety of ways, and in corals it is believed to occur when two coral planulae fuse into one very early in their cell development. We documented one extreme case of Acropora chimera in Kwajalein Atoll about this time last year, but plate and disc corals with their discrete and large circular corallite-individuals can express their chimerism even more dramatically.
In the image above you can see the kinda-famous ‘Pacman Cyclos’ that was imported from Bali by Unique Corals about one year ago, and which has gone into experimental propagation at ReefGen in NY. More recently however, this two-faced double Cycloseris was brought in by Merit Imports from Sulawesi.
Both specimens of Cycloseris exhibit that unusual blend of fused-but-separate skeletal features that hint at its very unusual origin. At present these kinds of double disc corals are just very neat curiosities, but we could see captive coral propagators creating fused specimens of their own as well as seeing what kind of frags can be made by asexually producing corals from these Chimera parents.