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Crumillospongia frondosa

A large, purse-shaped sponge peppered with wide openings

Image of Crumillospongia frondosa.

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Crumillospongia frondosa (ROM 53580). Complete specimen showing three distinct sizes of openings (ostia) and central opening (osculum) on top. Specimen diameter = 75 mm. Specimen wet – polarized light. Walcott Quarry.

© Royal Ontario Museum. Photo: Jean-Bernard Caron

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Taxonomy

Kingdom:

Animalia

Phylum:

Porifera

Class:

Demospongea (Order: Monaxonida)

Affinity:

A Hazeliid demosponge closely related to Hazelia (Rigby, 1986). Demosponges, the same group that are harvested as bath sponges, represent the largest class of sponges today.

Species name:

Crumillospongia frondosa

Described by:

Walcott

Description date:

1919

Etymology:

Crumillospongia – from the Latin crumilla, “money purse,” and spongia, “sponge,” thus, “purse-like sponge.”

frondosa – from the Latin frons, “leaf,” thus “leaf-like.”

Type Specimens:

Holotypes –USNM35399 (C. frondosa),USNM66778 (C. biporosa), in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.

Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: C. biporosa Rigby, 1986 from the Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge.

Other deposits: An unidentified species from the Middle Cambrian Chengjiang biota (Chen et al., 1996).

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Age

Period:

Middle Cambrian, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone (approximately 505 million years ago).

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Localities

Principal localities:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: The Walcott Quarry on Fossil Ridge.

Other deposits: C. biporosa Rigby, 1986 from the Early Cambrian Niutitang biota in Guizhou Province (Wang et al., 2005).

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History of Research

Brief history of research:

Originally described from a single specimen as a member of the cyanobacteria genus Morania by Walcott (1919), Rigby (1986) re-described the organism as a sponge. Rigby also recognizing an additional species C. biporosa within the specimens described by Walcott as Hazelia delicatula in 1920. Additional material collected by the Royal Ontario Museum allowed the descriptions to be further refined (Rigby and Collins, 2004).

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Description

Morphology:

The sac-shaped body of the sponge resembles a leather purse, perforated by a regular-looking pattern of large and small holes. It anchored itself to the sea floor with a rounded base. Its spicules are straight and sometimes tufty, and approximately line up with one another to form a thatch-like skeleton. The walls of the sponge are peppered with millimeter-scale circular-to-elliptical canals of three distinct sizes terminating in pores (ostia). C. biporosa is much smaller than C. frondosa, and only has two size-classes of canal, which are also much smaller than the canals in C. frondosa.

Abundance:

Crumillospongia is rare in the Walcott Quarry where it represents less than 0.1% of the Walcott Quarry community (Caron and Jackson, 2008).

Maximum size:

115 mm

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Ecology

Life habits:

Epibenthic, sessile

Feeding strategies:

Suspension feeder

Ecological Interpretations:

Crumillospongia lived attached to or resting on the sea floor. Particles of organic matter were extracted from the water as they passed through canals in the sponge's wall.

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References

Bibliography:

CARON, J.-B. AND D. A. JACKSON. 2008. Paleoecology of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 258: 222-256.

CHEN, J. Y., G. Q. ZHOU, M. Y. ZHU AND K. Y. YEH. 1996. The Chengjiang biota a unique window of the Cambrian explosion. National Museum of Natural Science Taiwan, Taichung, 230 p.

RIGBY, J. K. 1986. Sponges of the Burgess Shale (Middle Cambrian), British Columbia. Palaeontographica Canadiana, 2: 1-105.

RIGBY, J. K. AND D. COLLINS. 2004. Sponges of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale and Stephen Formations, British Columbia. Royal Ontario Museum Contributions in Science, 1: 1-155.

WALCOTT, C. D. 1919. Cambrian Geology and Paleontology. IV. No. 5, Middle Cambrian Algae. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 67: 217-260.

WALCOTT, C. D. 1920. Middle Cambrian Spongiae. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 67: 261-364.

WANG, P.-L., Y.-L. ZHAO, X.-L. YANG AND R.-J. YANG. 2005. Crumillospongia biporosa (sponge) from the early Cambrian Niutitang biota in Guizhou Province. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sinica, 22: 196-201.

Other links:

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