Milne Edwards and Haime, 1848, p. 494

Type Species

Astrea microphthalma Lamarck, 1816, p. 261; Original Designation Milne Edwards and Haime, 1848, p. 494

Type Specimen: Holotype; MNHN IK-2012-14002; Verified; Dry Preserved

Type Locality: 'les mers de la Nouvelle-Hollande' (Lamarck, 1816, p. 261) (Recent)




Colonial, with extracalicular budding only. Corallites monomorphic and discrete (1–3 centers); monticules absent. Coenosteum generally spinose (costate in C. agassizi and apical corallites of C. decadia), moderate amount (< corallite diameter; extensive in C. decadia). Calice width small (< 4 mm), with low relief (< 3 mm). Costosepta not confluent. Septa in ≤ 3 cycles (≤ 36 septa). Free septa regular. Septa spaced >11 septa per 5 mm. Costosepta unequal in relative thickness. Columellae trabecular but compact (1–3 threads), < 1/4 of calice width, and discontinuous among adjacent corallites. Paliform (uniaxial) lobes weak or moderate. Epitheca well developed and endotheca low-moderate (tabular). Tooth base at mid-calice circular. Tooth tip at mid-calice irregular; tip orientation multiaxial. Tooth height low (< 0.3 mm) and tooth spacing narrow (< 0.3 mm), with > 6 teeth per septum. Granules scattered on septal face; strong (pointed). Interarea smooth. Walls formed by dominant septotheca; abortive septa absent. Thickening deposits fibrous. Costa center clusters weak; 0.3–0.6 mm between clusters; medial lines weak. Septum center clusters weak; < 0.3 mm between clusters; medial lines weak. Transverse crosses absent. Columella centers clustered.


'Diffère des trois genres précédents [Astrea, Plesiastrea, Solenastrea] par la compacité du coenenchyme et par la structure poutrellaire de la partie interne des cloisons.' (Milne Edwards and Haime, 1848, vol. 27: 494)


Cyphastrea is a morphologically well-defined and moderately well-supported genus, but it is also exclusively associated with Echinopora, Orbicella and Paramontastraea. Cyphastrea spp. share the plesiomorphic state of spinose coenosteum with Echinopora and Paramontastraea, amongst other characters with Orbicella, supporting them as a clade that is sister to the rest of Merulinidae. Despite the recent emphasis that corals east and west of the Americas are genetically distinct from one another (Fukami et al., 2004), and whilst Cyphastrea and Orbicella are found solely in the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic realms respectively, synapomorphies are present for the clade comprising them, namely small calice width and trabecular but compact columellae. They also have walls formed predominantly by septotheca, a plesiomorphic state shared only with Paramontastraea. On its own, Cyphastrea is defined by the synapomorphy of strong pointed granules on the septal face. Because its closest relative does not overlap geographically, it is easily identified with the apomorphies shared with Orbicella. The multiaxial tooth tips, although present also among Echinopora and Paramontastraea, are much more conspicuous in Cyphastrea due to their small corallites. To date, phylogenetic data is only available for about half of the members of Cyphastrea (see also Romano and Palumbi, 1996; Chen et al., 2004).


Cyphastrea Milne Edwards and Haime, 1848, vol. 27: 494 was established to accommodate species distinguished by their compact coenosteum—'compacité du coenenchyme' (Milne Edwards and Haime, 1848, vol. 27: 494). Following which, only one species—Cyphastrea agassizi—has been placed in another genus in the initial description, implying limited confusion with its taxonomy. Molecular data indicate that Cyphastrea is very dissimilar from other taxa as it is subtended by a long branch from its sister genus, Orbicella. Yet the Cyphastrea + Orbicella clade (subclade C) is a well-supported relationship that has been recovered in several studies (Fukami et al., 2004, 2008; Huang et al., 2011; Arrigoni et al., 2012). Cyphastrea is widely distributed on reefs of the Indo-Pacific, present in French Polynesia and Pitcairn Islands in the southern hemisphere (Glynn et al., 2007), but absent in the eastern Pacific in the north.


  • Southeast Asia; Eocene
  • Southeast Asia; Miocene - Pliocene
  • South Asia; Miocene
  • East Asia; Miocene
  • Australasia; Miocene
  • Melanesia; Miocene
  • Micronesia; Miocene
  • Southeast Asia; Miocene
  • North Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia; Pliocene - Pleistocene
  • North Africa; Pliocene
  • East Asia; Pliocene
  • Melanesia; Pliocene
  • Polynesia; Pliocene
  • Southeast Asia; Pliocene
  • East Asia; Pleistocene - Holocene
  • North Africa; Pleistocene
  • Subsaharan Africa; Pleistocene
  • South Asia; Pleistocene
  • East Asia; Pleistocene
  • Australasia; Pleistocene
  • Melanesia; Pleistocene
  • Polynesia; Pleistocene
  • West Asia; Pleistocene
  • Southeast Asia; Pleistocene
  • Indian Ocean; Recent
  • Western Pacific; Recent
  • Central Pacific; Recent
  • East Asia; Holocene
  • Melanesia; Holocene
  • Micronesia; Holocene
  • West Indian Ocean Islands; Holocene
Source: Paleobiology database (accessed 5/24/12). Historical Distribution: Oligocene-Recent., West Indies-Indio-Pacific (Wells, 1956). Distribution contributed by Matthew Tibbits.

This page has been in preparation since 03-Oct-2009 23:20

This version was contributed by Danwei Huang on 05-Feb-2014 19:07.

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

Holotype of Astrea microphthalma Lamarck
Holotype of Astrea microphthalma Lamarck