Sponges

Sponges are the simplest multicellular lifeform. They consist of quite a few types of protozoa like cells. Living together confers many advantages for survival for cells. There are really fundamentally important questions regarding the nature of life. Most have silicon spicules for support and spongin connective tissue for shape. Sponges are full of tunnels and are known as Porifera or pore bearing animals. Sponges play an important role in cleaning up sea water, providing a home and food for many creatures inside them and on the surface. Sponges have been in a massive battle for living space with corals, algae and other sedentary creatures for half a billion years, ever since the great global freezeover.650 Mya. They have developed an arsenal of toxins to deter invaders that humans are just beginning to explore. They could even hold a cure for the emerging super bugs, bacteria that cannot be killed by anti-biotics. In my marine biology course, we look at the cellular level of sponges and how important they are in the marine ecosystem and in the evolution of living things.

 

Dysidea Slimy lemon sponge
Dysidea sponge is used in research for bioactive medicines. Who knows how long sponges live for. Certainly more than 30 years. Slimy lemon Sponge have their body across the current to maximise water flow. They have a sort of immune system and are able to fight off diseases. Their cells recognise self and not self, they can differentiate between foreign and friendly cells. This is fundamentally important to all animals. When this system goes awry, we call it Leukaemia or cancer.
Spopngeljmosaic Sponge crab
Ladyfinger sponges provide a sleeping place for many fish. Some sponges have tens of thpousands of living things inside them. These include skeleton shrimps, Polychaete worms, and many others. Decorator crabs attach sponges to their body with tiny hooks. Sponges like many other marine creatures sunbake and make food. They are full of symbiotic algae which supplements its diet and give sponges their bright colours.
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