Leptophyton benayahui Ofwegen & Schleyer, 1997

Mcfadden, Catherine S. & Van Ofwegen, Leen P., 2017, Revisionary systematics of the endemic soft coral fauna (Octocorallia: Alcyonacea: Alcyoniina) of the Agulhas Bioregion, South Africa, Zootaxa 4363 (4), pp. 451-488: 472-473

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Leptophyton benayahui Ofwegen & Schleyer, 1997


Leptophyton benayahui Ofwegen & Schleyer, 1997 

Figs. 5cView FIGURE 5, 12View FIGURE 12

Material examined. RMNH Coel. 40209 (SAF333), South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal, Aliwal Shoal, NE Pinnacles. 30º15.599'S, 30º49.724'E, depth 12–16 m, coll. C.S. McFadden, 19 March 2008GoogleMaps  . RMNH Coel. 40210 (SAF290), SAF288, SAF289, South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal, Park Rynie, Lander's Reef , 30º19.973'S, 30º47.523'E, depth 22– 28 m, coll. C.S. McFadden, 18 March 2008GoogleMaps  .

In their original description of L. benayahui, Ofwegen & Schleyer (1997)  state that the sclerites of the holotype have an eroded appearance, as though the specimen had been stored in formalin. In the newly collected material we have examined this is not the case, and additional details of the distribution and ornamentation of the sclerites can be discerned. Consequently, we update and revise the description of the sclerites of this species.

The description of the holotype states that the polyps lack sclerites, but in the material examined here we find small rods, 0.04–0.08 mm long, at the bases of the tentacles ( Fig. 12aView FIGURE 12). The proximal region of the polyps and the colony surface have spindles, 0.08–0.13 mm long, with fairly sparse, high, simple tubercles ( Fig. 12bView FIGURE 12). In the proximal region of the polyp these are arranged in eight longitudinal tracts, but do not form a collaret or points. The surface of the colony base has similar spindles, 0.08–0.13 mm long, with longer, simple tubercles and spinose projections ( Fig. 12cView FIGURE 12). The general shapes and sizes of these sclerites are similar to those depicted for the holotype (Ofwegen and Schleyer 1997: Figs. 3View FIGURE 3, 4View FIGURE4), but the details of the tubercular and spinose ornamentation can be seen more clearly in our material. The interior of the colony lacks sclerites.

Spherical gametes, 0.35–0.6 mm in diameter, can be seen within the stalk of RMNH Coel. 40210.


National Museum of Natural History, Naturalis