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Coral Reef Fossil Collection

Corals re-appeared during the Devonian period, around 410 million years ago and, for the first time, began to form extensive reef systems. These early coral reefs were predominantly composed of coral- like stromatoporoids (reef-forming sponges), tabulate corals (mounds, branches, and organ shapes), rugose corals (horn-shaped), and predecessors of the modern-day coralline algae (encrusting multi-colored algae seen on rock surfaces). It was towards the end of this period that scleractinian or ‘stony’ corals first appeared that populate coral reefs today. Then, 350 million years ago corals again disappeared from the geological record. The reason for this is not clear but evidence points towards rapid fluctuations in sea levels and a rapid reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide