The Cretaceous and Tertiary corals of New Zealand (print copy)

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    Squires, D.F. 1958 The Cretaceous and Tertiary corals of New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Geological Survey. New Zealand Geological Survey paleontological bulletin 29 106 p.

    Abstract: Although corals have been known from New Zealand waters since 1833, and Tertiary corals since 1850, no major systematic study has been made since 1880. In that year the Reverend J.E. Tenison-Woods described 27 species of corals from the Tertiary, based on a collection of 96 specimens. This work remained the standard reference on New Zealand fossil corals until the present. As a result of the current work, 64 species and subspecies belonging to 47 genera and subgenera have been recognised. 22 of these species and two of the genera are described as new. The study was based on the largest collection of New Zealand corals ever assembled - about 1500 specimens. The largest part was lent by the New Zealand Geological Survey, with smaller lots from New Zealand museums and university departments of geology. Six genera of Cretaceous corals have been recognised, the first corals of this age reported from New Zealand. They have faunal relationships with North and South America, but are predominantly endemic. Paleocene and Lower Eocene faunas are poorly known. Those of the Middle Eocene are greatly expanded and show affinities with Australia, the Tethys, and the American Mediterranean. By the Middle Oligocene, the Eogene faunas had reached their greatest diversity, and there was a notable abundance of alcyonarians. Upper Oligocene faunas are reduced because of cooling seas and increasingly sediment-laden waters. Orogenic movements causing regression of the seas culminated in the Upper Oligocene, perhaps linking New Zealand to the north with New Caledonia. A great invasion of the North Island by Indo-Pacific corals marks the beginning of the Miocene. The invading fauna is composed of two parts: a number of species of hermatypic corals and an ahermatypic element. The hermatypic corals, abundant in the Kaipara Harbour (Auckland) area, did not form reefs, and indicate marginal tropical conditions. The ahermatypic forms continued on into the Upper Miocene and spread over the whole of New Zealand, and became the dominant element of the Neogene fauna. Steadily decreasing temperatures reduced the number of species until the Early Pleistocene. All the species living at that time are living in the Recent seas. 64 species and subspecies are dealt with in the systematic section. All are described and figured. Comparison with related species is made, and distribution of fossil and Recent species noted. Five species of Alcyonaria and one hydrozoan are described. The remainder of the species are Scleractinia. Two new genera of the latter are described and two previously described genera which have been poorly known are redescribed, one as a synonym, the second as a valid genus. (auth)

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