Raspaciona aculeata sensu Topsent, 1936


Family : Raspailiidae

Form: Encrusting to massive, thickness from about 2 mm to 2 cm, lateral size up to 6 x 2 cm. Cushion-shaped specimens have a strongly indented, almost honeycombed surface. In fact, such specimens seem to consist of fused conical masses.

Colour: Red or bright rose.

Consistency: Firm and fibrous.

Surface: Surface very hispid, easily observed with the naked eye.

Internal characters

Skeleton: Long megascleres form a dense palisade at the substrate in thin crusts, but form strongly plumose bundles; individual tylostyles protrude far beyond the surface producing the hispidation. At the base and along their course through the sponge they are echinated by acanthostyles. At the surface they are surrounded by bouquets of styles/oxeas.

Spicules: Tylostyles or styles, smooth, slightly curved, elongate but clearly developed head: 1105-3000 x 15-20 Ám; styles, smooth, straight, some are oxeote (they may be regarded as anisoxeas): 350-450 x 5-6 Ám; acanthostyles, covered densely with small spines: 118-388 x 8-9 Ám (heads 14 Ám).

Habitat: Sublittoral, on stones and shells, 15 m.

Distribution: Pembrokeshire, Channel Isles, Galicia, Mediterranean.

Identity: This is a fairly easily recognizable species due to its strongly hispid surface and characteristic spiculation. The specific name aculeata is not strictly available for this species as it is not conspecific with Raspailia aculeata. There are obvious differences in external appearance and differences in the long megascleres (styles in Raspailia aculeata, tylostyles in Raspaciona aculeata) and the presence of very thin oxeas in Raspailia aculeata. The skeletons are also completely different. Raspaciona aculeata occurs from the Mediterranean north to the Channel Isles and South Wales, whilst Raspailia aculeata has a more northerly distribution.

Editors: Christine Morrow, Bernard Picton & Rob van Soest.

 Picton, B.E., Morrow, C.C. & van Soest, R.W.B., 2011. [In] Sponges of Britain and Ireland