Cyphastrea kausti is a newly described species from the Red Sea, present in the central and northern parts but seemingly absent from the south end of the Red Sea. The new species C. kausti is readily distinguished from all other species of Cyphastrea by having eight primary septa, instead of six, ten or twelve that you would expect from a good card carrying Scleractinia. In this regard, Cyphastrea kausti is somewhat like the unusual Euphyllia baliensis which also deviates from the mathematics of stony corals and has only four primary septa.
Perhaps even more interesting is the re-assertion that the genus Cyphastrea is no longer classified as a Faviid, or related to the ubiquitous moon corals such as Favia and Montastrea. Cyphastrea as a whole is now considered to be nested within Merulinidae making it more closely related to Merulina although many ex-Faviids such as Favites and Echinopora are also part of this gang.
Being the coral junkies that we are, it’s super exciting to see new species of corals, especially Scleratinia, even if the pictured specimens aren’t exactly winning any beauty pageants. It almost seems like in recent years the pace of new stony coral descriptions has increased, perhaps due to renewed interest, or new techniques, but best of all we hope it means that there’s lots more new and unexpected discoveries waiting to be made in the future. [Zookeys]