Efficient Ornamentation in Ordovician Anthaspidellid Sponges


  • Stephen B. Church Department of Geological Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah




Lithistid orchoclad sponges within the family Anthaspidellidae Ulrich in Miller, 1889 include several genera that added ornate features to their outer-wall surfaces during Early Ordovician sponge radiation. Ornamented anthaspidellid sponges commonly constructed annulated or irregularly to regularly spaced transverse ridge-and-trough features on their outer-wall surfaces without proportionately increasing the size of their internal wall or gastral surfaces. This efficient technique of modifying only the sponge’s outer surface without enlarging its entire skeletal frame conserved the sponge’s constructional energy while increasing outer-wall surface-to-fluid exposure for greater intake of nutrient bearing currents. Sponges with widely spaced ridge-and-trough ornament dimensions predominated in high-energy settings. Widely spaced ridges and troughs may have given the sponge hydrodynamic benefits in high wave force settings. Ornamented sponges with narrowly spaced ridge-and-trough dimensions are found in high energy paleoenvironments but also occupied moderate to low-energy settings, where their surface-to-fluid exposure per unit area exceeded that of sponges with widely spaced surface ornamentations.







How to Cite

Church, Stephen B. 2017. “Efficient Ornamentation in Ordovician Anthaspidellid Sponges”. Paleontological Contributions, no. 18 (August): 1-8. https://doi.org/10.17161/1808.24771.