Micromussa pacifica is a name that we’ve all been waiting for to identify an undescribed coral for nearly a decade. Ever since the small ‘Indonesian Scolymia’ popped up on the radar of reefers, it’s gone by many names but we all knew that this coral was neither a Scolymia (=Homophyllia), and definitely not ‘Acan Maxima‘ which is endemic to the Red Sea and Middle East.
The newly minted Micromussa pacifica joins the freshly reassigned Micromussa lordhowensis into a genus which is growing ever larger to accomodate some of our favorite LPS corals. Despite its superficial resemblance to our beloved Homophyllia australis in both colors and shape, the similarity is only ‘skin’ deep.
Underneath the prodigious tissue of Micromussa pacifica the skeletal features of this coral differ greatly from the characteristics of Homophyllia. Micromussa pacifica is most often encountered in a solitary form with corallites maxing out at around two inches across, but usually much smaller.
The rare specimen of Micromussa pacifica can also be found with two or three corallites, but rarely we encounter small colonies which is more reminiscent of the colonies we see in ‘classic’ Micromussa as well as M. lordhowensis. The new reclassification of Micromussa pacifica is part of paper by Arrigoni et. al. 2016 which is currently in press.
It’s very exciting to see so much activity in the space of coral taxonomy, with the work by many researchers outlining even more species diversity in this space than we ever realized. Furthermore, we are beyond tired of calling the Indo Scolie by ‘Acan Maxima’ with air quotes every time we try to discuss this coral with someone, and Micromussa pacifica is such a better fitting name.