Cupressopathes, Opresko, 2001

Terrana, Lucas, Bo, Marzia, Opresko, Dennis M. & Eeckhaut, Igor, 2020, Shallow-water black corals (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Hexacorallia: Antipatharia) from SW Madagascar, Zootaxa 4826 (1), pp. 1-62: 54-56

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Cupressopathes  sp. 1

Fig. 31View FIGURE 31

Material examined. Distal fragments of one colony, Soalara 13 m INV.131365.

Depth range. 10–20 m.

Description. The colony has a bushy general appearance, it is branched, pinnulate but not flabellate and is about 40 cm high and 40 cm wide ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, a). There are four irregular rows of primary pinnules inserted at right angles to the branch ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, b, c). Primary pinnules measure up to 2 cm in length and extend horizontally with an angle of insertion varying from 70° to 90°, giving a slight distal inclination ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, b, c). Four to six primary pinnules are found along one cm, counting those on all sides of the branch ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, b). Subpinnulation is sparse and irregular, up to six subpinnules can be found on a primary ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, b–d). Secondary pinnules are mostly uniserial, but they can be biserial on the distal part of the primary pinnules ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, c, d). These subpinnules are inclined distally but they are not always growing upwards. Some of them are straight while others can be slightly curved ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, b–d). Secondary pinnules measure up to 1 cm while other subpinnules always measure less than 1 cm. The polyps are white and generally arranged in a single row on the pinnules, but they can twist around the latter on thicker primary pinnules. On branches, polyps are irregularly distributed all around. Polyps measure 0.4–0.9 mm in transverse diameter. Their mutual distance goes from zero when they sit next to each other to 0.50 mm. There are 9–12 polyps per cm on the pinnules and subpinnules.

The morphology of spines on pinnules and subpinnules gradually change as the axis gets thicker, from conical and horn-shaped to acicular, sharp and needle-like, as in other myriopathids ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, e–h). They are very finely papillose, with the papillae elongated towards the tip ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, i–k). On some spines the papillae are almost not distinguishable, and many appear as faint striations ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, i–k). These papillae are on the upper part of the spine on the distal and proximal sides ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, i–k). The spines are inclined upwards, especially on abpolypar sides, although on thicker branches this inclination is irregular ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, e–h). On a subpinnule of 0.1 mm in diameter, the spines are arranged in five longitudinal rows. The polypar spines measure 0.08–0.09 mm with a mutual distance of 0.13–0.15 mm. The abpolypar spines measure 0.07–0.09 mm and are spaced 0.11–0.16 mm apart. On a pinnule of 0.21 mm in diameter, the spines are arranged in six longitudinal rows. The polypar spines measure 0.1–0.15 mm and are spaced 0.1–0.19 mm apart. The abpolypar spines measure 0.1–0.12 mm and are spaced 0.1–0.2 mm apart. On the main branch of 1 mm in diameter, the longitudinal arrangement is lost, and the spines measure up to 0.21 mm. Bifid spines can also be found on the thick branches ( Fig. 31View FIGURE 31, l).

Taxonomic remarks. The Soalara specimen does not match any Cupressopathes  species described to date. The most important features of this specimen are the significant branching, giving the colony a bushy appearance; the very sparse subpinnulation; and the spines being finely papillose, giving the appearance of an almost smooth surface.