This specimen of ‘Brain coral’ (Maeandropora sp) was part of the old Kendal Museum collection in the early 1900’s and had been presented by the Hon. Mrs Howard of Levens Hall, from the old museum in Stricklandgate c1913. Its display stand was custom made by Gillows of Lancaster in Mahogany. This specimen is believed to have come originally from the Indian Ocean.
Corals grow slowly, about 6mm each year. Our coral specimen is over 480mm in diameter, so it was probably over 80 years old when it was collected. The life span of the largest brain corals is over 200 years.
The Brain Coral is a type of stony coral, so called because these animals build a hard skeleton out of calcium carbonate using minerals the animals get from the ocean water.
The surface of this skeleton contains many rough ridges, and the coral animals live in the crevices between these ridges. Individual coral animals are called polyps. Notice that the ridges are in pairs with a small gap between. The polyps have tiny tentacles that they use to catch food. During the day, the tentacles hide in the tiny grooves on the sides of the ridges for protection.
Corals only grow in the clean warm sea-water of the world’s oceans and are under threat because of pollution and climate change. They are part of the phylum Cnidaria, in a class called Anthozoa or ‘sea flowers’.
The Brain Coral Specimen is on display in the newly refurbished Kendal and Westmorland Gallery.
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