Bryozoans, or lace corals, are one of the largest groups of animals in the seas around New Zealand, with nearly 1,000 living species. They were also important in the ancient seas, as indicated by the fossils found in coastal sediments. One of New Zealand’s best-known decorative building materials, Ōamaru stone, is a type of limestone partly made of the compressed skeletons of bryozoans that lived 35 million years ago. The animals’ lacy body-walls are visible in this close-up of Ōamaru stone.
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Photograph by Peter Batson
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