World’s Largest Sponge Might Be Oldest Living Animal

Posted: May 27 2016, 6:47am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

World’s Largest Sponge might be Oldest Living Animal
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
  • World’s Largest Sponge might be Oldest Living Specimen

Apparently the world’s largest sponge might be the oldest living specimen of its kind.

Off the Hawaiian Isles lies a 3.5 meter long object that is huge by its standards. It is the world’s largest sponge and it could be hundreds or even thousands of years old, acording to a new study published by Marine Biodiversity. These sponges are the most primitive and oldest of animals. They constitute marine life and hardly look like most animals.

Large sponges cater to the ecosystem’s needs and filter seawater, refurbish nutrients in coral reefs and provide a living environment for other species. These large sponges may live for as long as 2300 years.

This current giant sponge was discovered last year by Daniel Wagner of the NOAA Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and his colleague.

It belongs to the family Rossellidae. The sponge was captured on video camera from two sites. The size of this sponge even overtakes the size of a previous one that was huge by any standards.

Most of the surrounding area in the region is undisturbed and unperturbed which lends a lot of solace to the sponge. This is the reason for its longevity and the fact that it is still intact.

“Sponges don’t have things like growth rings that can be used to estimate age,” Wagner told Newscientist. “We do know, however, that several coral species that live at those depths can live to multiple hundred to even a few thousand years: the oldest one is 4500 years. Thus, my best guess is that this is likely a very old sponge on the order of century to millennia.”

Many organisms of the deep blue ocean need a quiet and peaceful environment in which to flourish. These organisms thus grow in size and they continue this practice for extended periods of time. While scientists still do not know the exact age of this giant sponge, they are busy making guesstimates. It does not have any rings like trees from which to calculate its age.

What is known with accuracy is that coral reefs around this region have ages that go into several thousands of years. The oldest is 4500 years in age. So this new giant sponge is probably a century to a millennium in age.

Conservationist measures are being taken to see to it that the sponge remains intact. Sponges started out early on the evolutionary tree. They represent simple forms of life and only later on did the complex forms of life emerge. They are very beneficial for the oceanic environment.

Most of them feed on single-celled organisms. There have been instances of certain kinds of sponges gobbling up crustaceans caught in their networks though. Dolphins often search for food imbedded in sponges and dislocate the food particles before feeding on them.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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