Some Amazing Notes from the Sponge World

Sponge Coat

Sponge Coat

Throughout my career a special research interest of mine has been sponges. Projects I have been involved in include assessing the sustainability of the commercial bath sponge fishery, and assessing sponge population recovery following mortality events such as harmful algal blooms and hurricanes. I often get some interesting tidbits about sponges from my colleagues around the world and thought I would share a couple with you.

Sponge Clothing! Are you kidding me? A colleague of mine in Ireland reports a coat made of sponges from the Philippines. Evidently it is now in a museum. Definitely unique, maybe it will show up on the runway at the Academy Awards. However, I don’t think it would make a good rain coat!

I just also learned of a reference by Aristotle of the use of high quality sponges as helmet lining by Roman soldiers. Good idea if someone takes a club to your head!

Sponges are world’s first animals!

Scientists digging in a Namibian national park (South Africa) have uncovered sponge‐like fossils they say are the first animals, a discovery that would push the emergence of animal life back millions of years.

The tiny vase‐shaped creatures’ fossils were found in Namibia’s Etosha National Park and other sites around the country in rocks between 550 and 760 million years old, a 10‐member team of international researchers said in a paper published in the South African Journal of Science.

This means animals (yes, sponges are animals), previously thought to have emerged 600 million to 650 million years ago, actually appeared 100 million to 150 million years before that.

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