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Coralliformes

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Description

Coralliformes were the second multicellular clade to evolve. Descended from chemocells, they are sessile chemotrophs similar to Earth plants, with the major difference being that they are tied to the deep waters of Reccembra's oceans by their dependence on hydrothermal vents.

Like all duacutean descendants, coralliformes have a three-sex reproductive system, meaning only around a third of the polulation is hermaphrodite, and all others are either 'male' or 'female'.

A coralliforme's life begins when two gametes merge and the 'core cell' starts dividing. The floating embryo take the shape of a small tube of cells, slowly growing taller and heavier until it lands on the ground and sends down a 'root' to anchor itself.

All species are made up of one or multiple 'branches', which themselves are made up of rings of cells stacked on top of eachother. These branches continue growing for the rest of the coralliforme's lifespan, and so the oldest individuals have the longest branches.

The small coralliformes have rings with only one 'processor cell' surrounded by multiple layers of 'collector cells', however this method only works in small organisms, so the bigger, more advanced coralliformes have multiple processor cells arranged in a ring around a 'central hole' used for waste disposal.

Gamete-maker cells are constantly produced once the organism reaches maturity. They are generated by the topmost ring of cells on each branch, then quickly release the gametes and are reabsorbed by the coralliforme.

Logsponges:

Logsponges are one of the weirdest and least common clades of coralliformes. They grow in short colonies close to the ground and have wide bases to prevent other coralliformes from growing near them and steling their nutrients. This however doesn't always work, as other coralliforme species have specialized to anchor themselves to logsponges, usually starving them after some time.

Logsponges have taken the waste-disposal hole present in most coralliformes and expanded as much as possible, to the point where their body is completely made up of a single, hollow cylinder. They have this shape for a reason, as, without any branches, they can maximize their nutrient intake by having as much surface area as possible.

While most coralliformes have multicellular bristles protruding out of their entire bodies, this trait isn't ancestral to the original coralliformes, and so logsponges had to evolve this trait seprarately. Compared with other coralliformes, the logsponges' bristles are only located inside their body cavity, which is their main structure for nutrient absorbtion.

Hairgrasses:

Hairgrasses are one of the most widespread coralliforme clade due to their small size and adaptability. They are really short (~2 cm) and, like the logsponges, only have one 'branch'. Unlike the logsponges however, hairgrass is flexible and can be moved around by the ocean currents, which are its primary way to aquire nutrients, as its soft roots aren't made for climbing hydrothermal vents.

They reproduce pretty quickly and are the base of most deep sea ecosystems, as they can survive even in low-nutrient areas due to their small size.

Tentacle shrubs:

Tentacle shrubs are small branching coralliformes which use their flexible 'tentacles' to collect nutrients from the water. They make up the most noticable patches of vegetation on the ocean floor, and usually only grow near hydrothermal vents. Like with all coralliformes, their gametes and embryos travel long distances before settling down, meaning that their young can often be found everywhere, however only a few manage to make it to adulthood, as they often starve to death long before that.

To cope with their high nutrient demand, some tentacle shrubs have started to also rely on marine snow which falls from the ever-productive ocean surface for sustenance. However, this method is not very reliable and provides little help without the vent's chemicals.

Fan trees:

Ouf of the two coralliforme clades which could be considered 'trees', fan trees are the tallest. They grow slowly and only reproduce every once in a while, however they don't need to be in direct vecinity of hydrothermal vents, as their nutrient consumption is also very slow.

They have an irregular number of flat, hardened branches, which have long bristles growing on both of their 'edges'. These bristles help the organism gather nutrients from the water more effectively, and so produce more cells faster.

Skyreachers:

As counterintuitive as it may sound, skyreachers aren't tall coralliformes, indeed, all skyreacher species grow low to the ground. They are called this way becasue of how their branches curve upwards at their tips, where a crown of thick but flexible hairs (the coralliforme equivalent of leaves) grows.

The skyreachers' branches grow low to the ground, 'looking' for a nutrient-rich spot to grow upwards and reveal their crown of 'collector hairs'. Once a branch grows upward and reveals the hair crown, it stops growing, as it has found a place where it can reliably obtain what it looks for,

Furtrees:

Furtrees are the other clade of tall coralliformes. They try to maximize nutrient absorbtion in a similar way to the fan trees: by covering their branches with bristles. However, while the fan trees have a few long bristles, furtrees have plenty of small ones.

Furtrees and fantrees don't share the same habitat, as they have the same niches, and doing so would end up with one of them going extinct. 

Flailers:

Flailers are the only large clade of coralliformes to not have hard branches. Instead of having a single root, they attach themselved to a hard surface (may that be stone or another coralliforme) using small, hairlike protrusions on the base of their 'main branch'. Once attached they begin growing the longest branches out of any coralliforme, whose job is to flail around (hence their name) and collect nutrients from the area around the organism.

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wayoutdan's avatar

You forgot the hairgrass!