Man Eating Sponges

Be careful there are 9 new species of carnivorous sponges. Luckily they are all deep sea so your chances of encountering one on any day are limited. But when the squid overlords take over they may call upon the sponges for the battle. You may not be scared but Vacelet (2006) describes how these are predators with spicules that are hooked for capturing invertebrate prey. Image from Vacelet (2006 Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society).


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Dr. M (1606 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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5 comments on “Man Eating Sponges
  1. Well they are not crinoids! I don’t think so but this is intuition and I cannot envisage the mechanism by which this would occur. They are flesh eaters of small zooplankton hanging near the bottom. The exact mechanism I am unclear about but will find out just for you! With those hooks I think they should definitely be our number one priority. I guess this means I can’t board a plane with one!

  2. I do believe they have small filaments, that hook and capture the small prey trapping them in the sponge itself. Research showed that the prey kept struggling to free itself for hours, hence they do not release any toxins or paralyzing agents. After several days the filament hooks that caught the prey grow and envelope the food, and the food is digested into the sponge.

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