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Coral reefs aren't just beautiful and rich in species. They also have long served as an evolutionary wellspring for countless types of marine life, even groups such as clams and snails that researchers thought had originated in shallow coastal waters. That's the conclusion of a new examination of the fossil record, and the findings reinforce the idea that evolutionary potential is linked to the environment.

Coral reefs are well-known hot spots for biodiversity, but scientists have assumed that many types of reef-dwelling animals had migrated from other ecosystems, such as shallow coastal waters. Paleontologist and lead author Wolfgang Kiessling of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin initially shared that assumption. But spurred by older studies of reefs and hints from the genetics of fishes, he took a closer look.

To read the full, original article click on this link: Coral Reefs Are Evolutionary Cradles -- Berardelli 2010 (107): 1 -- ScienceNOW

Author: Phil Berardelli