Posts Tagged ‘sponges’

Scuba Talk Now, Pirate’s Radio (KNRY 1240) features MLML Student Amanda Kahn

August 14, 2010

Get to bed early tonight because Sunday morning at 8:00, MLML student Amanda Kahn will be interviewed on Scuba Talk Now, Pirate’s Radio!  The interview will air on KNRY AM 1240, and will feature questions about some of the things that Amanda has learned about for her research.  Come find out what it’s like doing deep-sea research, what is so great about  scientific diving, and learn a ton about the animals that Amanda studies: marine sponges!  Check out the posts below for some background info, then listen in and be ready to ask more questions!

Animal, celebrity, or cake?

Do sponges have the nerve to eat?

Scuba Talk Now, Pirate's Radio

Scuba Talk Now (Station KNRY, AM 1240) will feature MLML student Amanda Kahn this Sunday at 8:00 AM.

Do sponges have the nerve to eat?

October 24, 2008
Amanda Kahn

Amanda Kahn

by Amanda Kahn, Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology Lab

Hi again.  I received a few questions in my previous post that I would like to address in this post.  A user named doughnutfan asked three great questions about sponges.

Q: Are the spicules themselves responsible for filtering out the food particles?

A: Sponge spicules do not filter food particles out of the water – what they do is support the cells that do.  I often think of sponges as skyscrapers (yes, I really do); it makes it a lot easier to visualize what different body parts of sponges are good for.  Spicules are like the beams and internal structures that support the skyscraper – they provide support and give the sponge its shape.  Spicules also make sponges hard to eat; very few animals can handle passing glass shards through their digestive systems!

Instead, what is responsible for filtering food out of the water is a type of cell called a choanocyte (ko-AN-oh-site).  It looks like a funny name at first, but it’s named after a group of microscopic single-celled organisms called choanoflagellates.  The choanocytes in sponges look just like the free-roaming choanoflagellates, but intsead of being solitary, single-celled organisms, sponge choanocytes are clustered together and work together to get food.  As a side note, the strong similarity between the way choanoflagellates and sponge choanocytes is no coincidence.  Currently, the favored hypothesis of how animals first evolved from single-celled organisms is that choanoflagellates evolved into sponges (specifically, the choanocytes in sponges).  (more…)

Sponge skyscrapers and love symbols

October 21, 2008
Amanda Kahn

Amanda Kahn

Check it out blog fans – Amanda is guest blogging today at the awesome Deep Sea News blog!  (Which is the place to get the lowdown on weird critters lurking in the darky deep.)

sentimental yet structurally sound

Euplectella: sentimental yet structurally sound

As part of the DSN countdown to Halloween, featuring the 27 coolest deep sea creatures (Why 27, you ask? “Because it’s 7 more than 20,” they reply), Amanda shines the spotlight on a deep sea sponge called Venus’s Flower Basket (Euplectella), a brainless but beautiful architectural marvel.

“Running transects across the abyssal plain is about as exciting as driving across Nevada…until you run across Euplectella,” Amanda writes. Click here to visit Deep Sea News and read the whole story – and find out why this sponge makes an excellent wedding present in Japan!

Animal, celebrity, or cake?

September 14, 2008
Amanda Kahn

Amanda Kahn

by Amanda Kahn, Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology Lab

I’d like to introduce you to my favorite organism!  I’m studying these critters for my thesis project, and I think they are one of the weirdest critters in the ocean.  Let me explain why they’re so cool, first of all:

This organism lives in all places where there is water: bays, harbors, freshwater lakes, coastal environments, and the deep ocean.  It eats microscopic particles out of the water, yet can grow so large, a person could fit inside of it!  To find its microscopic food, it sifts through microscopic particles one by one, to find the edible bits with up to 95% efficiency!  As if that’s not cool enough, this organism is the star of a popular cartoon, is present in many people’s homes, and has a delicious dessert named after it.  Wow!  Can you figure out what I’m talking about?


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