Paragorgia stephencairnsi, JUAN ARMANDO SÁNCHEZ, 2005

JUAN ARMANDO SÁNCHEZ, 2005, Systematics of the bubblegum corals (Cnidaria: Octocorallia: Paragorgiidae) with description of new species from New Zealand and the Eastern Pacific, Zootaxa 1014, pp. 1-72: 57-60

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.169657

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Paragorgia stephencairnsi

sp. nov.

Paragorgia stephencairnsi   sp. nov.

( Figs. 39–41 View FIGURE 39 View FIGURE 40 View FIGURE 41 )

Material Examined. Holotype: USNM 57982, 350 m, col. N. McDaniel, exact locality unknown, off British Columbia, Canada.

Paratype: USNM 94437, 490 m, Alvin DSR/V (Dive 2296), 16 October 1990, 32 ° 26 ’00”N – 127 ° 47 ’ 36 ”W, California, USA.

Diagnostic characters. Colonies with flattened branches. Surface sclerites mostly 7 ­ radiates (occasionally 8 ­radiates) with long (> 0.01 mm) lobulated, smooth rays ( Fig. 40 View FIGURE 40 D–G, 41 B–D), averaging 0.065 mm in length. Medullar sclerites highly ornate, forked, irregular, spindles usually less than 0.3 mm in length (e.g., Fig. 40 View FIGURE 40 H).

Description. Robust flattened branches, white cortex and pink to purple autozooid apertures. Numerous conical, semi­closed, autozooid polyp apertures uniformly/randomly distributed throughout the branches ( Fig. 39 View FIGURE 39 ). Tiny siphonozooid apertures tightly closed, not observable to the naked eye. Medulla in the terminal branches with 6–7 major canals. Autozooid polyp tentacles with blunt ovals up to 0.1 mm long, regularly ornate with notable conical rays ( Fig. 40 View FIGURE 40 A–B) though different overall form in the paratype ( Fig. 41 View FIGURE 41 A).

Surface sclerites mostly 7 ­radiates, and occasionally 8 ­radiates, with long (> 0.01 mm) lobulated, smooth rays ( Fig. 40 View FIGURE 40 D–G, 41 B–D), averaging 0.065mm in length (0.005 SD, n= 10). Oval surface sclerites about 1.45 times longer than wider, averaging 0.045 mm in width (0.005 SD, n= 10). Medulla with highly ornate, forked, and irregular, spindles usually less than 0.3 mm in length ( Figs. 40 View FIGURE 40 H).

Morphological variation. Two characters exhibited a great deal of variation between the holotype and paratype: the form of autozooid ovals and the medullar sclerites, the most variable character in Paragorgia   spp. The medulla sclerites of the holotype of P. stephencairnsi   sp. nov. have a great array of forked and bent forms. Since both examined specimens present the same kind of surface sclerites, which is the prevailing diagnostic character in most Paragorgia   spp., they can be considered as the same species until further specimens are available.

Distribution. Pacific Ocean, off British Columbia, Canada, 350– 490 m.

Species comparisons. Externally, P. stephencairnsi   sp. nov. is similar to P. yutlinux   , but the two can be differentiated using sclerite form. P. yutlinux   has mostly 6 ­radiates and P. stephencairnsi   7 ­radiates.

Etymology: This species is named in honour of Dr. Stephen Cairns, one of the most prolific coral taxonomists.


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History