The Builders of the Oceans – Part II: Corals from the Past to the Present (The Stone from the Sea)
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At any scale, corals are live buildings. Their carbonate skeletons constitute three-dimensional frameworks allowing the delicate coral polyp to emerge from the sea bottom and populate vast areas of the ocean. The role that corals play in the oceans defies any attempt at simplification since it transcends the life span of the small polyp, geological time, and ecological space. Long after the polyps are gone, coral skeletons continue to play an important ecological role by hosting assemblages of disparate species utilizing the calcareous remains. However, the skeleton is one of the reasons coral has a privileged position in human culture. Coral has been regarded as mystic object and unique material of lapidary medical and apotropaic properties, this in great part due to the architecture and arrangement of the skeleton, growth morphologies, and color. Human history has been carved in chalk-white coral tombstones, on effigies, and on painted coral skeletons. Coral eyes of basaltic sentinels ...
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