Coral, common name for members of a large class of marine invertebrates characterized by a protective calcium carbonate or horny skeleton. This protective skeleton is also called coral. Corals are divided into two subclasses, based on differences in their radial symmetry. One subclass consists of colonial, eight-tentacled animals, each with an internal skeleton. Among them are whip corals, gorgonians, and the red coral used in making jewelry. Members of the other subclass commonly have six tentacles, or multiples of six, but other patterns are also observed. They include the stony, or true, corals. Another class of the same phylum also contains forms known as coral that are not considered here. Coral reefs are arguably the world’s most beautiful habitats. Coral reefs have been called the rainforests of the oceans, because of the rich diversity of life they support. Scientists have not yet finished counting the thousands of different species of pl...