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Canada's species


Ephydatia mulleri. Photo: Henry M ReiswigThe earliest sponge fossils date back to the Vendian, about 600 million years ago. They have often been important reef-builders, at many times as important as all other reef-building organisms combined, but today they only play a minor part in the construction of reefs. Sponge diversity reached a high point in the Cretaceous, when dinosaurs reached their largest size.

Sponges are the most primitive of the multicelled animals. They lack organs, but have several different cell types and are built around a system of water canals; water is pulled through these canals and filtered for food. Small structures called spicules provide support for the body, and classification is based on the material and structure of the spicules. Almost all sponges are marine.

Five thousand species of sponges have been identified, and there may be five thousand more. The three classes of sponges are the Calcarea (glass sponges), Hexactinellida (silicious sponges), and Demospongiae. Canada contains about five hundred species of sponges.

Anheteromeyenia argyrosperma
Anheteromeyenia biceps
Anheteromeyenia pictouensis
Anheteromeyenia ryderi
Corvomeyenia carolinensis
Corvomeyenia everetti
Corvospongilla becki
Corvospongilla novaeterrae
Dosilia palmeri
Dosilia plumosa
Dosilia radiospiculata
Ephydatia fluviatilis
Ephydatia japonica
Ephydatia millsii
Ephydatia muelleri
Ephydatia robusta
Eunapius igloviformis
Eunapius mackayi
Eunapius fragilis
Heteromeyenia baileyi
Heteromeyenia latitenta
Heteromeyenia tentasperma
Meyenia sp.
Radiospongilla cerebellata
Radiospongilla crateriformis
Spongilla aspinosa
Spongilla cenota
Spongilla heterosclerifera
Spongilla lacustris
Spongilla alba
Stratospongilla penneyi
Trochospongilla horrida
Trochospongilla leidii
Trochospongilla pennsylvanica