Carnivorous Sponge Video!

You ask and we deliver! And if you have ever had any doubt we are the baddest blog ever, we have carnivorous sponge video! Bolstered by a commenter about the mechansism of flesh eating sponges, I asked Dr. Vacelet to give some more insight into this process.


I was pointed to Vacelet & Duport (2004) Prey capture and digestion in the carnivorous sponge Asbestopluma hypogea (Porifera: Demospongiae). Zoomorphology 123: 179-190). Dr. Vacelet was also kind enough to provide this description.

The prey, mostly small crustaceans and other invertebrates provided with setae or thin appendages, is trapped on the surface of appendages of the sponges, which is lined by tiny hook-like spicules acting as Velcro. Then the cells of the sponge migrate towards the prey, and individually phagocytize and digest fragment of the prey. This is a very unusual phenomenon in pluricellular animals, a unique case in which a non-microscopic prey is digested in the absence of any digestive cavity. This has been investigated in one species, but is likely general for all the carnivorous sponges (family Cladorhizidae), which are deep-sea species usually a few cm high (not really dangerous for a diver…).

But it gets better, there is video (note this requires Real Player and you need to select Une eponge carnivore on the right side)

Dr. M (1628 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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