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New dating finds oldest coral yet

7:29pm, February 26, 2008

From Boston, at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

A black coral collected near the Hawaiian Islands may set a new record for age among coral kind: some 4,200 years.

The meter-plus-tall specimen of Leiopathes glaberrima turns out to be older than corals previously studied by Brendan Roark of Stanford University and his colleagues. The team used submersible vehicles to pluck a few Hawaiian corals from deep water. The researchers determine the coral ages by radiocarbon dating, based on the known decay rate for carbon-14. In 2006, the group reported that a sample of a Gerardia species, one of the gold corals prized for jewelry, had live

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