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Ulospongiella ancyla

A sponge with a wool-like appearance

Image of Ulospongiella ancyla.

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Ulospongiella ancyla (ROM 43830) – Holotype. Nearly complete individual. Specimen height = 19 mm. Specimen dry – direct light (left), wet – polarized light (right). Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

© Royal Ontario Museum. Photos: Jean-Bernard Caron

Media 1 of 2 for Ulospongiella ancyla Photo
Media 2 of 2 for Ulospongiella ancyla Photo







Demospongea (Order: Monaxonida)


Ulospongiella is considered a primitive demosponge (Rigby, 1986). Demosponges, the same group that are harvested as bath sponges, represent the largest class of sponges today.

Species name:

Ulospongiella ancyla

Described by:

Rigby and Collins

Description date:



Ulospongiella – from the Greek oulus, “wooly or curly,” and spongia, “sponge.” The name refers to the curled or curved spicules forming the skeleton.

ancyla – from the Greek anklyos, “bent or hooked.” The name makes reference to the curved spicules.

Type Specimens:

Holotype –ROM43830 (wrongly referred asROM48830 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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Middle Cambrian, Bathyuriscus-Elrathina Zone (approximately 505 million years ago).

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Principal localities:

The Trilobite Beds on Mount Stephen.

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History of Research

Brief history of research:

Ulospongiella was described by Rigby and Collins in 2004 based on collections made by the Royal Ontario Museum.

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Ulospongiella is a small sponge less than 2 cm in height. Its shape is subcyclindrical with a rounded base. Most spicules forming the skeleton are pointed at both ends (oxeas). These oxeas are strongly curved or hooked shape and form a relatively dense mesh. A few coarser and longer spicules with a round base extend upward from the wall. There is no clear indication of canals within the sponge there is no evidence of a central cavity (spongocoel).


Only three specimens are known, all from the Trilobite Beds.

Maximum size:

19 mm

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Life habits:

Epibenthic, sessile

Feeding strategies:

Suspension feeder

Ecological Interpretations:

Ulospongiella would have lived 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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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.

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