Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have certainly surprised the scientific community in the past with their discoveries, but none so much as a new carnivorous harp sponge that has been named the Chondrocladia lyra. Sponges have not always been given the respect they are due, but have been faithful in helping to clean our waterways for centuries. Now, the C. lyra on the other hand being carnivorous, could be called our competition for tiny crustaceans that it ensnares with its branches, envelopes in a thin membrane and digests slowly. Then again, humans would probably not be interested in something so miniscule anyway. The other amazing discovery of the C. lyra is that it does not simply release sperm into the water, but instead creates condensed packets of sperm that are visibly seen on the tips of the branches called spermatophores (Crew, 2012). The spermatophores are released in hopes that they will find and be able to fertilize another C. lyra sponge in the area. These are actually not the first meat eating sponges that have ever been discovered, but they are certainly within the last twenty years. How incredible is that?!
There is a really good YouTube video about the discovery, too!
Crew, B. (2012, November 08). New carnivorous harp sponge discovered in deep sea. Retrieved from Scientific American: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/running-ponies/2012/11/08/new-carnivorous-harp-sponge-discovered-in-deep-sea/
Wells, C. (2012, November 13). Scientists discover new meat-eating, harp-shaped sponge. Retrieved from New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/scientists-discover-new-meat-eating-harp-shaped-sponge-article-1.1201462