Charles Darwin wrong about coral atoll formation, study says

A new study suggests that Charles Darwin was wrong about one of his more controversial theories -- but it's not evolution.

The research, recently published in the May 9 issue of the journal Geology , suggests that Darwin was wrong about his theory on coral atoll formation.

Darwin's theory said that atolls are created when the tiny organisms that make up coral grow upwards toward the sun. He also held that atolls were actually several thousand feet thick and not the thin sheath of coral that was the popular conception in 1842, when Darwin released his findings.

He would eventually be proven right in 1953 regarding the sheer size of atolls, but he might have come up short describing the process in which they form. Researchers have recently suggested that the coral growing toward the sun isn't the only cause for the formation and fluctuation of coral atolls.

Scientists proposed that changes to sea level and temperatures caused by glacial cycles are also responsible for the formation and size of coral atolls.

The journal suggests that Darwin was mostly right, which was remarkable for his time, but he didn't know about the glacially induced sea-level cycles that contribute to atoll formation.

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