Fossil Carnivorous Sponge?

In my email several months ago Casey Burns, a field associate with the California Academy of Science, sent me a fantastic find.  The photo is a potential carnivorous sponge from the Eocene, roughly 55 million to 39 million years ago  Eocene/Oligocene boundary at 33 million years ago.  The fossil is from the well-known Mist crinoid locality in the Keasey Formation of Northwest Oregon. Other sponges from the same formation have already been described. The site is thought to be ash-derived mud and estimated to be about 600 meters. The original collectors of the beautiful specimen were Lori and Rob Healy.


Here is the fossilSponge 2

And here is a contemporary and Cladorhizid species.


Dr. M (1746 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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