New Carnivorous Sponge Discovered

Yes, this is an animal.

The “harp sponge” is a newly discovered species of carnivorous sponge that lives at depths of over 10,000 feet off the coast of California. These creatures were first described in the scientific literature only last month, after being spotted by researchers using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s robotic submersibles. Sponges are the most basic of animals: they share the same basic cellular structure as animals and survive by ingesting organic materials (unlike plants or decomposers like fungi) but otherwise live fairly “vegetative” lives. These harp sponges use hooked barbs to capture tiny crustaceans that drift by in the oceans currents, and then digest the prey in membranes. The upright “branches” also produce the reproductive cells of the sponges and allow them to be transported by ocean currents. The video above describes more.

The animals were described recently in Invertebrate Biology.

(Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

Image: MBARI

2 comments on “New Carnivorous Sponge Discovered

  1. Cool…but that would be the Monterey Bay Aquarium.