Dolomite—the mineral, not Rudy Ray Moore—is found in abundance in fossilized coral but virtually never in modern reefs. For more than a hundred years, scientists have searched for it but without luck. Turns out they were looking in the wrong place.
A research team from the Research School of Earth Sciences, led by Bradley Opdyke, found the mineral not in the coral itself, but a species of red algae, Hydrolithon onkodes, that lives in it. The algae act as sort of biological cement that help fix the reef to the seafloor and withstand the pressures of waves.
"The discovery was completely serendipitous-we were working on an unrelated question at the time," says Opdyke. "When we confirmed the finding I said to Marinda [Nash, a student on the project], 'This is going to be huge'. It opens up a kaleidoscope of future research topics."
The discovery marks the first time this mineral has been found in living organisms. [R&D Mag]