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sponge, any kind of of the primitive multicell aquatic pets that constitute the phylum Porifera. They number approximately 5,000 described types and inhabit every seas, wherein they happen attached to surface from the intertidal region to depths of 8,500 metres (29,000 feet) or more. The members the one family, the Spongillidae, are discovered in new water; however, 98 percent of all sponge species are marine. Adult sponges lack a definite nervous system and also musculature and do not show conspicuous movements of human body parts.

General features

Early naturalists pertained to the sponges as plants since of their constant branching kind and their lack of obvious movement. The pet nature the sponges, an initial described in 1755, was confirmed in 1765 after observations of their water currents and also the changes in diameter that the openings into their central cavity. In structure, function, and development, sponges are distinct from other animals; one of their many noticeable attributes is that they lack organs. Plenty of zoologists have regarded sponges together occupying an isolated place in the pet kingdom and also classify castle in the subkingdom Parazoa; however, molecule data indicate that both sponges and also more-complex pets evolved from a common ancestor. More than likely they are bona fide pets that gave rise to no further evolutionary lines.


The phylum Porifera may be divided into three classes top top the basis of the composition of the bones elements. Together, the classes Calcarea and also Hexactinellida do up about 10 come 20 percent that the known varieties of sponges; the staying 80 to 90 percent are placed in the course Demospongiae.


The soft elastic skeletal frameworks the certain species of the class Demospongiae—e.g., Spongia officinalis, Hippospongia communis, S. Zimocca, S. Graminea—have been familiar household items since ancient times. In old Greece and Rome, sponges were provided to use paint, together mops, and also by soldiers as substitutes for drinking vessels. During the middle Ages, melted sponge was reputed to have actually therapeutic value in the treatment of various diseases. Natural sponges currently are used mainly in arts and crafts such together pottery and also jewelry making, painting and also decorating, and in surgical medicine. Artificial sponges have actually largely replaced natural ones for family members use.

The living sponge is a massive of cells and fibres, its inner permeated by an elaborate system of canals that open as holes of miscellaneous sizes v the hard dark brown or black color skin, which might be hairy native fibre ends the pierce it. Only after it has actually been totally cleaned of its countless living cell does a sponge resemble the sponge the commerce; i.e., a soft and also elastic spongin skeleton framework. Commercially an important sponges, which may be discovered from tidal level come a depth of about 200 feet, usually space harvested by hooking or harpooning in shallow waters, by skin diving or by deepwater fishing. Although the most beneficial sponges are uncovered in the eastern Mediterranean area, they additionally are harvested off the west coast of Florida and also the Florida Keys, in the West Indies, turn off Mexico and also Belize, and, to a restricted extent, turn off the Philippines. Because they have the capability to regenerate lost parts, sponges can be grew from tiny fragments.

Sponges are an important from a scientific suggest of view because of their inexplicable cellular company (the cells do not form tissues or offal such as those uncovered in other animals), their ability to regenerate shed parts, and their biochemical functions (they have numerous compounds not known in other animals). Sponges comprise an essential part the the life uncovered in the depths of the sea (benthos) and also may be associated with various other organisms; e.g., many types of pets live in sponges.

Size variety and diversity the structure and colour

Most sponges are just a few centimetres in size, however some urn-shaped or shapeless ones are much less than a centimetre (0.4 inch); others, shaped prefer vases, tubes, or branches, may be one to two metres (3.3–6.6 feet) tall, and broad rounded masses might be one to two metres in diameter. Dimension within a species may vary with age, ecological conditions, and also food supply.

Sponges vary considerably in exterior appearance. Some space bushy or treelike and have fingerlike projections. Others, particularly in the course Demospongiae, are shapeless, or amorphous, masses that kind thin encrustations top top objects or are cushion shaped. A few species in the Demospongiae have well-defined spherical shapes as in Tethya aurantium, the sea orange; others may be cup- or fan-shaped. Calcareous sponges the the genus Scypha space shaped like tubular sacs, with an opened (osculum) in ~ the tip. Members of the Hexactinellida room erect or cylindrical, through a stalklike base.

Colour amongst sponges is variable. Deep-water sponges usually display a neutral colour, drab or brownish; shallow-water sponges, frequently brightly coloured, range from red, yellow, and also orange come violet and occasionally black. Most calcareous sponges room white. Some sponges (e.g., the Spongillidae) are frequently greenish since green birds live in a symbiotic connection within them; others are violet or pinkish, because they harbour symbiotic blue-green algae. This symbionts endow the sponges with colour as lengthy as light is available; the sponges end up being white in the dark once no photosynthesis occurs and the algal pigments made use of in photosynthesis are no much longer produced. Another variable personality in sponges is consistency, which may selection from the soft and also viscous state of some encrusting types to the tough stonelike quality of the genus Petrosia. In addition, the surface ar of a sponge might be smooth, velvety, rough v protruding skeletal aspects called spicules, or conulose (i.e., listed with conical protrusions called conuli).

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Distribution and abundance

Sponges are current at every water depths, from the tidal zone to the deepest regions (abyss). They occur at every latitudes and are specifically abundant in Antarctic waters. Members the the Calcarea and Demospongiae are found mainly ~ above the rocky bottom of the continent shelf, and members of the Hexactinellida space characteristic of the deepest muddy bottom of oceans and seas. In some environments, sponges room the overcoming organisms; sometimes they cover vast areas, particularly on rocky overhangs and in the caves that the littoral, or shore, zone. A limited number of varieties are adjusted to brackish waters; and also members the the family members Spongillidae (class Demospongiae) populate the fresh waters that rivers and lakes.