Friday, June 7, 2013

Weirdly Beautiful Meat Eating Sponge

(from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), via, used w/o permission)
"...the recently discovered carnivorous harp sponge, Chondrocladia lyra, ... in Monterey Canyon, off the coast of California, at a depth of about 11,500 feet (3,500 meters)...."

"Weird-Looking, Meat-Eating Sponge Found In Deep Sea"
Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet, via (November 8, 2012)

" A new carnivore shaped like a candelabra has been spotted in deep ocean waters off California's Monterey Bay.

"The meat-eating species was dubbed the 'harp sponge,' so-called because its structure resembles a harp or lyre turned on its side.

"A team from the Monterey Bay Research Aquarium Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., discovered the sponge in 2000 while exploring with a remotely operated vehicle. The sponges live nearly 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) beneath the ocean's surface...."

The harp sponge probably wouldn't make a good movie monster. Mostly it just sits there, waiting for tiny critters to drift by and get caught in in the upright parts. This carnivorous sponge has dreadful table manners: it digests its prey by wrapping a membrane around it.

You might impress your friends by calling the harp sponge by its scientific name: Chondrocladia lyra. Then again, maybe not. Anyway, "harp sponge" takes less time to say.

Those little things at the bottom aren't roots, by the way. They're called rhizoids, and keep the sponge rooted in place.

Now, if only harp sponges were a hundred feet tall, walked on land, and roared: maybe they'd revive good old-fashioned movies like "Them!," "Tarantula," or "Night of the Lepus." The Lemming would say 'they just don't make movies like that any more: but there's "The Thing" (2011). Special effects have changed a bit, and that's another topic.

The article's video video was a bit on the dry side, but the Lemming enjoyed it. Your experience may vary:

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