Eugorgia excelsa Verrill, 1868, Verrill, 1868

Breedy, Odalisca, Guzman, Hector M. & Vargas, Sergio, 2009, A revision of the genus Eugorgia Verrill, 1868 (Coelenterata: Octocorallia: Gorgoniidae), Zootaxa 2151, pp. 1-46: 20-22

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.188707


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Eugorgia excelsa Verrill, 1868


Eugorgia excelsa Verrill, 1868  

Figure 9 View FIGURE 9 , Plate 5 A–C

Eugorgia nobilis   var. excelsa Verrill, 1868: 409   ; 1870: 553–554; Bielschowsky 1929: 176; Kükenthal 1924: 344; Stiasny 1951: 65; Harden 1979: 127 –128.

Material examined. Syntype series: YPM 401, dry, La Paz, 11–15 m, W.B. Rich, no date; YPM 1710, dry, Acapulco, no depth given, A. Agassiz, 1859–1860; YPM 4052, a–d, 8716, a–b, 8717, a–b, 8718, a–f, 8719, a–c, 8720, a–f, 8721, 8722, 8723, 8724, 8725, 8902, MCZ 36316 View Materials (donor YPM), USNM 44148, USNM 33601 (fragment of YPM 4052, donor A.E. Verrill), dry, La Paz, 11–15 m, J. Pedersen, no date.

Other material: MEXICO: Gorgonia- 6, dry, Islas Gringas, Guaymas, 10–15 m, J.L. Carballo, 27 November 2002; MNHN oct.0000-0550, dry fragments, La Paz, no depth given, M. Diguet, 1913.

Description. Colonies are large and flabelliform, mostly wider than high. Examined specimens measure up to 65 cm in height, and 85 cm in width. Branching is profuse, irregular and dichotomous (Plate 5 A). Holdfasts are large, spreading and thick, in some colonies having a 1 cm thick layer of gorgonin deposited on the substrate. Holdfasts cover rocks and shells. In some colonies a thick stem, up to 3 cm in diameter, and 20–22 cm long arises from the holdfast and then branches, but generally several thick stems arise directly from the holdfast branching close to the base. Branches compressed at the base, 5–8 mm in diameter, more cylindrical, and tapered at the ends, 2–3 mm in diameter, with blunt or rounded tips, about 1–2 mm in diameter. Unbranched final twigs reach up to 10 cm in length. Some colonies present tumour-like growths on the branches that are covered by coenenchyme producing lumpy branches (Plate 5 B). Full grown colonies have thicker branches and thinner branchlets, and the branching is more irregular and profuse. Colonies are dark reddish brown, varying somewhat in hue in different specimens, only YPM 1710 shows a purplish colour (Plate 5 A–B). Marked longitudinal grooves occur along the thick branches, and near the base. The polyps are evenly distributed all around the branches, crowding the surface, and the polyp-apertures are small, up to 0.5 mm in diameter (Plate 5 B). Coenenchymal sclerites are orange and they are mostly double discs reaching up to 0.07 mm in length and 0.05 mm in width (Plate 5 C, Fig. 9 View FIGURE 9 ). Spindles are less abundant, up to 0.10 mm in length, and 0.043 mm in width, with 4–5 whorls of warty tubercles (Plate 5 C, Fig. 9 View FIGURE 9 ). No anthocodial sclerites were obtained in the samples for study.

The illustrated colony ( MCZ 36316 View Materials ) measures 45 cm in height, and 63 cm in width (Plate 5 A).

Distribution. Baja California Sur, Acapulco, type localities; Mazatlán ( Table 4).

Remarks. This species was firstly described by Verrill (1868) as a variety of E. nobilis   to separate the large flabelliform colonies of La Paz, Baja California, collected by Captain Pedersen from the short branched, more compact colonies of Panama and Nicaragua, E. nobilis   . As a matter of fact the largest Eugorgia   specimens examined in all collections belong to E. excelsa   . In 1870 Verrill provided a fuller description of E. nobilis var excelsa   , and included the locality of La Paz, collected by Major Rich, and Acapulco, collected by Professor Agassiz. Although it lacked of illustration and holotype designation, Verrill’s description (1870) of this species is complete and consistent with the syntype series. We consider that this variety is different enough from E. nobilis   to be treated as another species.

Eugorgia excelsa   and E. ampla   are the species that reach the largest sizes found in the collection, they both are bushy and very similar in their morphology. However, E. ampla   has thicker and flatter branches, but thinner stems, polyp mounds closer together, and colonies are stouter than in E. excelsa   . Sclerites of E. ampla   and E. excelsa   are similar in colour and morphology, but they differ in size and composition. Spindles reach up to 0.15 mm in E. ampla   , and 0.10 mm in E. excelsa   . Spindles are more abundant in samples of E. ampla   than in E. excelsa   (Table 1).


Peabody Museum of Natural History


Museum of Comparative Zoology


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle














Eugorgia excelsa Verrill, 1868

Breedy, Odalisca, Guzman, Hector M. & Vargas, Sergio 2009

Eugorgia nobilis

Harden 1979: 127
Stiasny 1951: 65
Bielschowsky 1929: 176
Kukenthal 1924: 344