Homophyllia bowerbanki is the new name for both corals we once called Acanthastrea hillae and A. bowerbanki. Amid the reshuffling of Micromussa lordhowensis and Australophyllia wilsoni into their new respective categories, the new analysis now places the corals once known as Hillaes and ‘Bankis into the same genus os our beloved Australian “Scolymia”.
Last year Scolymia australis was reassigned to be the sole species in the genus Homophyllia as H. australis. Now with Lords in Micromussa, Wilsoni in its own genus, and Hillaes and Bowerbankis together with Australis in Homophyllia, the wider Acan/Micro/Homo/Australophyllia landscape is starting to make a lot of sense.
For many years now reefers have enjoyed greater imports of live stony corals from Australia, including our introduction to Hillae and Bowerbanki about ten years ago. Some of our ‘Scolymia’ australis sometimes showed multiple corallites like Bowerbanki, and some colonies of Hillae often showed very similar color pattern to Scolymia.
Furthermore, we often drew the distinction between hillae and bowerbanki based on ambiguous size of corallites and differences in color and tissue which have been deemed insufficient to define a separate species. All of the large colonial ‘Acans’ coming out of Australia will be hereunto be known as Homophyllia bowerbanki.
Looking back on all the reclassification, seeing these various corals in their new classifications makes a lot of sense from an aquaristic point of view. It’s too bad that the indo-pacific corals belonging to Scolymia couldn’t have been placed in a better named genus like “Scoly-phyllia” as reefers are unlikely to start calling their beloved Scolies ‘Master Homo’ and ‘UFO Homo’. We’re just going to keep calling them ‘Scolies’ while still recognizing their true classification in Homophyllia.
That’s about it regarding the coral taxonomy shakedown from the forthcoming paper by Arrigoni et. al. We still expect a few new species of corals in this group to be described in the future but this is probably enough information to absorb for the time being.