Article: Rotatory colonies of the corals Siderastrea radians and Solenastraea ssp. (Cnidaria, Scleractinia), from the Pleistocene Bermont Formation, south Florida, USA
Study of corallum shape in Siderastrea and Solenastraea colonies collected from Pleistocene Bermont strata in western Palm Beach County, Florida, indicates that the corals are rotatory, formed by rolling during growth on the Pleistocene sea floor. Growth of a radial and centrifugal nature away from the corallum centre suggests that rolling was sufficiently frequent and energetic to maintain the health of individual polyps along the skeleton's entire spherical surface with no evidence of growth stoppage. Post-mortem sponge boring accompanied by that of sipunculid worms and boring by the bivalves Gastrochaena and Lithophaga during coral colony life is common. Colonization by cirripeds (barnacles) on some live colonies also occurred, but these are most commonly overgrown. Boring of rotatory coralla decreased the mass of the skeleton and probably increased the ease and frequency of rolling. Comparison with modern rotatory specimens of S. radians from Rodriguez Bank indicates that the Pleistocene corals were not greatly modified during diagenesis, given their comparable densities. Diameters of both groups of corals are utilised to calculate levels of shear velocities necessary to move them, based on hydrodynamics of rounded sediment of comparable size. The presence of these rotatory coralla, by analogy, strongly suggest that Bermont sediments in the study area accumulated on shallow shelf areas populated by numerous other free-living corals along with fewer fixed corals, accompanying a diverse molluscan assemblage, all indicative of a Thalassia (turtle-grass) community. Nearshore, wave data recorded along Florida's present-day east coast, in contrast to conditions along the west coast, indicate that sufficient wave-generated velocities are present to cause regular rotation of Siderastrea and Solenastraea, and would likely have done so during the Pleistocene.