Is Coral The Smartest Rock Or The Dumbest Animal?

Coral is a very strange thing. It’s a weird organism that lives underwater, making its home in typically warmer warters such as those around Australia. It often looks like some funny rocks that have grown out of the mysteries of the universe, but… it grows. So, is coral the smartest rock, or the dumbest animal?

Well, entities like sea anemones are pretty clearly alive, in ways only animals and plants exhibit. They grow, they feed, they reproduce. So they can’t be rocks right? Well in order to play devil’s advocate, my thinking is this. While rocks aren’t technically alive, the smartest rock could be, in the same way trees are. A loose definition of “alive” is to have biological functions. A mushroom, for example, is as alive as you or I. But there would have to have been a time where life grew out of something not alive, right? I mean, life didn’t just happen. So why can’t a rock become alive? Not necessarily sentient, but biologically functional. Perhaps coral is a first of these new “alive rocks”?

My coworker, Isaac, thinks that they are plants (I disagree, as he’s a moron). I understand where he’s coming from – anemones look a bit like trees – but no. They don’t disperse seeds or bear branches. Not a plant – and don’t go starting hashtags like #MakeCoralPlantsAgain. It won’t work.

According to Wikipedia, “a coral “group” is a colony of myriad genetically identical polyps. Each polyp is a sac-like animal typically only a few millimeters in diameter and a few centimeters in length.” There is a type of coral called ‘stony’ but that probably means nothing. So Wikipedia calls coral an animal. That’s a pretty good confirmation. Now, the question is, is it the dumbest animal?

Unsurprisingly, the Internet has already pondered this. Four months ago, someone asked Reddit the same question, and the top response in the thread is: “Coral is in fact an animal, but it is not the dumbest. Sponges are the simplest animal known to still exist, coral being one step further than that, being a cnidarian as opposed to a poriferan.”

So there we go. Coral is NOT the dumbest animal, but nor is it the smartest rock. It’s the second dumbest animal, and not a rock at all. Pretty lame ending to be honest.

And, because you read through this brilliant example of Thursday afternoon writing blues, have a fun fact courtesy of Reddit.

“Fun fact. Sponges are so simple that you can blend them then pass them through a sieve and they barely notice. They just spend the next few weeks recoalescing.”

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