Distribution and ecology

Diploria labyrinthiformis is a typical common coral of reefs and other shallow water habitats of the Atlantic (including Caribbean) region

Its fossil record is also entirely from this region. The oldest fossils are from the Pliocene epoch 5.33 million years ago.

Like many other scleractinian corals in these environments, this coral is zooxanthellate (has single-celled symbiotic dinoflagellate algae living within its cells). As a result the coral can only survive in waters lit adequately for photosynthesis (not more than 10s of metres deep).

Ecologically D. labyrinthiformis occurs in a wide range of environments. It is often found in marginal inshore conditions where few other species occur, but it is also a major reef-builder in optimum but slightly deeper reef areas.

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

In World War II the Museum was used as a secret base to develop new gadgets for allied spies, including an exploding rat!