Lavrov, Dennis V. Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Hartman, Willard D. Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Rigby, J. Keith Department of Geology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Phylogeny and taxonomy
- General structure and cell types
- Water-current-system physiology
- Feeding and digestion
- Reactions and behavior of sponges
- Sexual reproduction
- Asexual reproduction
- Commercial sponge fisheries
- Organisms associated with sponges
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A phylum comprising the sponges. Porifera is a phylum of the animal kingdom that includes more than 9000 described species of sponges (Fig. 1). The body plan of sponges is unique among animals. Currents of water are drawn through small pores (ostia) in the sponge body and leave by way of larger openings (oscula). The beating of flagella on collar cells or choanocytes, localized in chambers on the interior of the sponge, maintains the water current. Support for the sponge tissues is provided by calcareous or siliceous spicules, by organic fibers, or by a combination of organic fibers and siliceous spicules. Some species have a compound skeleton of organic fibers, siliceous spicules, and a basal mass of aragonite or calcite. The skeletons of species with supporting networks of organic fibers have long been used for bathing and cleaning purposes. Because of their simple and possibly primitive organization, sponges are of interest to zoologists as an aid in understanding the origin of multicellular animals. See also: Animal evolution; Animal kingdom; Parazoa
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