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Eiffelospongia hirsuta

A small ovoid sponge with a long hairy-like root tuft

Image of Eiffelospongia hirsuta.

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Eiffelospongia hirsuta (ROM 44291) – Paratype. Specimen showing the long tuft spicules extending well up in the body. Specimen height = 10 mm. Specimen wet – direct light. Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

© Royal Ontario Museum. Photo: Jean-Bernard Caron

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Taxonomy

Kingdom:

Animalia

Phylum:

Porifera

Class:

Calcarea (Order: Heteractinida)

Affinity:

This species resembles Diagoniella but belongs to sponges with calcium carbonate (calcite or aragonite) spicules (Rigby and Collins, 2004).

Species name:

Eiffelospongia hirsuta

Described by:

Rigby and Collins

Description date:

2004

Etymology:

Eiffelospongia – from the nearby Eiffel Peak, named on account of its resemblance to Paris’ Eiffel Tower, and spongia, the Latin word meaning “sponge.”

hirsuta – from the Latin hirtus, “hairy,” referring to the hairy or beard-like appearance of the basal tuft and dermal layer of this species.

Type Specimens:

Holotype –ROM43828 (wrongly referencedROM48828 in Rigby and Collins, 2004), in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.

Other species:

Burgess Shale and vicinity: none.

Other deposits: none.

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Age

Period:

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

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Localities

Principal localities:

The Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

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History of Research

Brief history of research:

This genus was named by Rigby and Collins in 2004 based on new material collected from the Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen by the Royal Ontario Museum.

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Description

Morphology:

Eiffelospongia is a small (less than 1 cm) oval or keg-shaped sponge with a large central cavity and a small osculum (opening at the top) with a flat margin. The skeleton of Eiffelospongia is composed of two orders of spicules: long thin-rayed spicules with six-pointed ends (hexaradiate), that thatch together to give shape to the sponge, and a second type of spicules which are much smaller and occur in the spaces between the long spicules. The basal part of the sponge is defined by long coarse spicules, arranged lengthways, that form a triangular tuft shape.

Abundance:

The species is known from only a few specimens from the Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

Maximum size:

10 mm

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Ecology

Life habits:

Epibenthic, sessile

Feeding strategies:

Suspension feeder

Ecological Interpretations:

Eiffelospongia would have lived with its bearded root tuft attached to 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:

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): 155 p.

Other links:

None

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