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RARE LARGE COLONY OF PLIOCENE FOSSIL CORAL ASTRHELIA

Caloosahatchee Formation - Manatee County - Florida, USA

LATE PLIOCENE PERIOD :  3 million years ago

Fossil corals are beautiful and fascinating, reminding us of the wonderful creatures that made up prehistoric ocean life.  Unlike modern coral which we VEHEMENTLY discourage purchasing for obvious reasons, collecting fossil coral not only broadens ones collection and studies but it also helps to appreciate the beauty beneath the ancient seas and how important and fragile such amazing creatures were and still are.  While many species of fossil coral are extinct, others still survive today yet struggle against extinction.  Pollution and the modern coral collecting market is directly causing the destruction of massive colonies of these ecologically vital organisms in our oceans.

Where most fossil coral specimens occur in the market as broken junk scraps of a larger colony, this remarkable item is a rare large INTACT COLONY of Pliocene fossil coral called Astrhelia.  While fossil coral can be found in abundance in many regions of the world, large unbroken and undamaged colonies similar to this are uncommon!  Even if you could care less about fossil coral, it is hard to resist the beauty that rests with this spectacular specimen.  Not only is the entire colony intact but delicate inner skeletal structures are perfectly preserved and fully cleaned from the shell pit from which it was found.  Because of the delicate and thin nature of this coral colony, always the colonies are broken into many small pieces.  Collectors at the site where this was found informed us that only fragments of this specific type are found, rarely a complete, large colony like this!  Even if you could care less about fossil coral, it is hard to resist the beauty that rests with this spectacular specimen.  This is truly Nature's finest art.  For the collector who has fossils from the Pliocene Period and would like to recreate the what the ocean floor looked like back then, this would be a perfect showpiece addition for a memorable exhibit.  Perfect to display with various fossil shark and whale teeth of the time as well as terrestrial animals of the same era.  Entire specimen features NO REPAIR and NO RESTORATION!  Colony rests on a custom peg mango wood base stand so that it appears floating with no visible support.  The stand can be removed from the fossil and is not permanently attached.

Coral colonies like this decorated the ocean floor during the last Ice Age in North America when many gigantic and bizarre beasts walked the earth and swam in the oceans including the last days of the giant MEGALODON SHARK!  Camels, saber cats, giant ground sloths, giant beavers and mammoths were roaming the forests and plains of Florida when this coral colony was alive in the surrounding warm ancient oceans three million years ago.

Fossil corals were simple marine invertebrates that possessed a sac-like body called a polyp with a mouth and tentacles.  As carnivores, they would immobilize or kill their prey with their stinging tentacles then swallow their prey and later expel the wastes through the same mouth.  They formed a dense outer skeleton of calcium carbonate which, when living in large colonies of thousands of cloned individuals, formed a massive structure.  The complex folds in their stomach cavity can be seen in the wondrous detail left behind in their skeletons.  Modern corals today share a symbiotic relationship with algae that covers their body tissue.  The algae supplement the coral with oxygen which most likely was the case in prehistoric times, as well.

Prehistoric corals are believed to have thrived in the same environments that modern corals prefer - clean, warm oceans of normal salinity levels.  Solitary corals were present in oceans of soft, muddy bottoms while horn corals and colonial corals preferred hard sea floors to attach themselves.   

We highly recommend this choice example.  Specimens of this caliber are seldom discovered and this type of fossil is not mined commercially for the fossil market so it would definitely make quite a unique specimen to any collection.  As both an uncommon and visually attractive fossil, this item presents itself as an excellent opportunity to add a superbly preserved as well as wonderfully aesthetic display specimen to any display of prehistoric ocean life.  

RARE COMPLETE COLONY OF THIS SPECTACULAR AND BEAUTIFUL PREHISTORIC CORAL - NATURE'S FINEST ART!

8.25" across x 5.5" high overall

SOLD     COR-041     INCLUDES STAND     Actual Item - One Only

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