Animal World

Sponges, Coelenterates, and Worms

What is the basic composition of a sponge?

A sponge is supported by a skeleton made of hard crystals called spicules whose shape and composition are important features in taxonomy. Calcareous sponges have spicules of calcium carbonates, the material of marble and limestone. The silica spicules of the hexactinellid, or glass, sponges are formed into a delicate, glassy network. Demosponges have siliceous spicules and a network of fibrous protein, spongir, that is similar to collagen. The demosponges are the source of natural household sponges, which are made by soaking dead sponges in shallow water until all the cellular material has decayed, leaving the spongin network behind. However, most sponges sold now for household use are plastic and have nothing to do with real sponges.


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