Deep-sea corals may be oldest living marine organism


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From: DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

LIVERMORE, Calif. – Deep-sea corals from about 400 meters off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands are much older than once believed and some may be the oldest living marine organisms known to man.

Researchers from Lawrence Livermore, Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Cruz have determined that two groups of Hawaiian deep-sea corals are far older than previously recorded.

Using the Lab’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, LLNL researchers Tom Guilderson and Stewart Fallon used radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of Geradia sp., or gold coral, and specimens of the deep-water black coral, Leiopathes sp. The longest lived in both species was 2,740 years and 4,270 years, respectively. At more than 4,000 years old, the deep-water black coral is the oldest living skeletal-accreting marine organism known.

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