Alcyonacea (soft corals; class Anthozoa, subclass Octocorallia)
An order of corals that appeared first in the Lower Jurassic
and which contains the modern genus Alcyonium
(dead man's fingers). Members of the order are characterized by having retractable polyps with eight, branching tentacles
. The polyps are embedded in the body mass which has a skeleton of numerous, free, calcareous spicules
. Usually these corals are attached to rocks. The order contains six families, and 36 genera.
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