Dana, 1846, p. 197

This genus is often misspelled "Caulastrea".

Type Species

Caulastraea furcata Dana, 1846, p. 198, pl. 9, fig. 4; Original Designation Dana, 1846:198

Type Specimen: Syntype; USNM 80; Verified; Dry Preserved

Type Locality: Fiji (USEE) (Recent)

Caulastraea furcata is the first of three species, which Dana (1846) originally assigned to his new genus Caulastraea. Other specimens in the syntype series are USNM 80, YPM IZ 1986A, B, 4295. The second species (C. distorta) was synonymized with C. furcata by Veron, Pichon, and Wijsman-Best (1977, p. 16). Veron, Pichon, and Wijsman-Best (1977, p. 15) state that the third species, C. echinulata "... has not been recognised as a distinct species underwater and its validity has yet to be clearly established".




Colonial, with intracalicular budding only. Corallites monomorphic and discrete (1–3 centers); monticules absent. Phaceloid. Calice width medium (4–15 mm), with medium relief (3–6 mm). Septa in 3 cycles (24–36 septa). Free septa present but irregular. Septa spaced < 6 septa per 5 mm. Costosepta equal in relative thickness. Columellae trabecular and spongy (> 3 threads), < 1/4 of calice width, and continuous among adjacent corallites. Paliform (uniaxial) and septal (multiaxial) lobes weak or moderate. Epitheca absent and endotheca abundant (vesicular). Tooth base at mid-calice circular. Tooth tip at mid-calice irregular; tip orientation perpendicular to septum. Tooth height low (< 0.3 mm) and tooth spacing medium (0.3–1 mm), with > 6 teeth per septum. Granules scattered on septal face; irregular in shape. Interarea palisade. Walls formed by dominant paratheca; abortive septa absent. Thickening deposits fibrous. Costa center clusters not distinct; medial lines strong. Septum center clusters not distinct; medial lines strong. Transverse crosses present. Columella centers clustered.


'Segregato-gemmate, cespitose, with the stems and calicles subcylindrical. Coralla fragile, exterior excavate; lamellae unequally exsert, subentire, very numerous.' (Dana, 1846: 197)


Molecular and morphological data support Caulastraea, Mycedium, Oulophyllia and Pectinia as a monophyletic group (subclade XVII-D/E; Huang et al., 2011; Arrigoni et al., 2012), even though they differ in almost one-third of all macromorphological characters examined. Subcorallite characters, including DNA sequences, are therefore the main source of synapomorphies for this clade. Caulastraea is a well-defined and well-supported genus. The phaceloid colony form, weak or moderate septal lobes and low tooth height are identified as synapomorphies that clearly distinguish it from the above closely-related genera. It is the only Merulinidae genus with phaceloid attached colonies and possesses septal lobes that are not as well developed as those in Coelastrea, Goniastrea and Trachyphyllia.


This genus was established by Dana, 1846: 197 as part of the family Astraeidae Dana, 1846: 154 (see also Matthai, 1928: 272–273). He posited that Caulastraea is affiliated to Caryophyllia Lamarck, 1801: 370 and Mussa Oken, 1815: 73 (Dana, 1846: 198), placing it in a subdivision comprising corals that are massive ('glomerate') or 'calicularly branched' (Dana, 1846: 157). This united Caulastraea with a diverse group of genera, including Tridacophyllia de Blainville, 1830: 327 (= Pectinia de Blainville, 1825: 201), Astrea Lamarck, 1801: 371, and Monticularia Lamarck, 1816: 248 (= Hydnophora Fischer von Waldheim, 1807: 295), all of which are currently in Merulinidae. This association persisted for almost a century before Pectiniidae Vaughan and Wells, 1943: 196 was erected for Pectinia and Mycedium, among others, and Caulastraea transferred to Faviidae Gregory, 1900: 29. This genus is relatively well sampled, with only Caulastraea connata yet to be placed on the phylogeny. It was only recently that Veron, 2000, vol. 3: 91 synonymized Astraeosmilia Ortmann, 1892: 664 as Caulastraea Dana, 1846: 197, resulting in the genus change of Astraeosmilia connata Ortmann, 1892: 664.


  • North Africa; Paleocene
  • Western Europe; Eocene
  • Southern Europe; Eocene
  • Eastern Europe; Eocene
  • South Asia; Eocene
  • Caribbean; Eocene
  • Southeast Asia; Eocene
  • Western Europe; Oligocene
  • Southern Europe; Oligocene
  • South Asia; Oligocene
  • Caribbean; Oligocene
  • West Asia; Oligocene
  • Caribbean; Miocene - Pliocene
  • Western Europe; Miocene
  • Southern Europe; Miocene
  • North Africa; Miocene
  • South Asia; Miocene
  • Melanesia; Miocene
  • Caribbean; Miocene
  • West Asia; Miocene
  • Southeast Asia; Miocene
  • Central America, Caribbean, Southeast Asia; Pliocene - Pleistocene
  • Central America; Pliocene
  • Caribbean; Pliocene
  • Southeast Asia; Pliocene
  • East Asia; Pleistocene - Holocene
  • East Asia; Pleistocene
  • Central America; Pleistocene
  • Caribbean; Pleistocene
  • Indian Ocean; Recent
  • Western Pacific; Recent
  • Central Pacific; Recent
  • East Asia; Holocene
Sources: Paleobiology Database (accessed 5/22/12). Veron (2000). Historical distribution: Eocene-Recent., Europe, Asia, Indo-Pacific (Wells, 1956). Distribution compiled by Matthew Tibbits. Recent: Caulastraea is widely distributed on reefs of the Indo-Pacific, recorded as far east as Pitcairn Islands in the southern hemisphere (Glynn et al., 2007), but absent eastwards from Hawai'i in the north.

This page has been in preparation since 18-Jul-2010 20:44

This version was contributed by Danwei Huang on 05-Feb-2014 19:25.

Page authors are: Ann Budd Danwei Huang. Please contact the editor if you would like to contribute to the diagnosis of this taxon.

The editor is: Ann Budd

Syntype of Caulastraea furcata Dana, 1846