Think Tank

Brain Coral

Corals are simple animals that live in vast colonies and produce a hard skeleton to live on

Brain Coral from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Brain Coral

A coral is a simple animal that lives in the sea.

Brain Corals get their name from their rounded and grooved surface that makes them look like a human brain.

Each coral animal feeds on minute food particles filtered out of passing sea water.

More on Brain Corals

This Brain Coral belongs to the Family with the scientific name Faviidae. Corals can be difficult to identify from their skeleton alone, but this may be an example of the Boulder Brain Coral whose scientific name, or two-part or Latin binomial, is Colophyllia natans.

Each Brain Coral is made up of hundreds of genetically identical coral animals called polyps. Each polyp secrets its own skeleton that together form the brain-like skeleton.

The Brain Coral skeleton is made of calcium carbonate. The calcium carbonate is extracted out of sea water, and is the same material that is deposited on the inside of a kettle. Brain Corals are also known as stony corals and are important reef builders.

Coral live in warm, clear, shallow sea water and grow very slowly. This Brain Coral is 70 cm in diameter and 35 cm tall. Brain Corals can grow to over 2 metres in diameter but this takes about 200 years.

Coral polyps are very simple organisms. They have two body layers, an outer ‘ectoderm’ and an inner ‘endoderm’ separated by a simple jelly-like ‘mesogloea’. There is a single opening into a body-cavity or ‘enteron’ that acts as both a mouth and anus. The opening is surrounded by a ring of tentacles which are armed with stinging cells or ‘nematocysts’.

Brain Corals are threatened with extinction because of pollution which kills them, accidental damage caused by divers, and damage from people fishing and collecting corals as souvenirs.

Want to know more?

To find out more about Brain Corals, download the Resourses to your right. 

This Brain Coral is part of the collections held in store by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in Birmingham. Use the ‘Birmingham City Council’ web link below to find out more about the Birmingham Collections.

Fossiliferous limestone sedimentary rock from Wolverhampton Arts and Museums

Limestone is formed from the skeletons of millions of sea creatures, some large and some small. To find out more about limestone, click on the image above.

Great Northern Diver bird from Ludlow Museum

This bird feeds in the sea. It is rare in the West Midlands. Find out more about the Great Northern Diver by clicking on the image above.