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Esperiopsis koltuni sp. nov. (Demospongiae: Poecilosclerida: Esperiopsidae), a carnivorous sponge from deep water of the Sea of Okhotsk (North Pacific)

  • Alexander V. Ereskovsky (a1) (a2) and Philippe Willenz (a3)


Esperiopsis koltuni, a new species of the sponge family Esperiopsidae, is described from deep water of the Sea of Okhotsk. The new species has a unique growth form: there is a basal plate with radiating cylindrical branches, whose oval flat distal parts bear filament-like outgrowths. Megascleres are arranged differently in the main part of branches and in their distal flat parts. The dermal membrane contains isochelae with protruding alae and abundant sigmancistras. Microscleres are represented by large anchorate spatuliferous isochelae, small isochelae, sigmas and sigmancistras. Esperiopsis koltuni sp. nov. is hermaphroditic, with parenchymella larva. The larval skeleton consists only of sigmas and sigmancistras. Esperiopsis koltuni sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from other Esperiopsis species by dimensions and combination of spicule types. In particular, it is the only species in the genus with three different size categories of styles. The new species lacks the aquiferous system, has a characteristic body plan with symmetrical lateral expansions, an unusual arrangement of microscleres in the dermal membrane and true sigmancistras. Moreover, prey capture by a filament-like outgrowth of the flat distal part was observed. All of these characteristics indicate that Esperiopsis koltuni sp. nov. is a carnivorous sponge.


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