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(Haeckel, 1870)

Species Overview

Clathrina cerebrum (Haeckel, 1870) is a yellowish or reddish pyriform mass of intricately interwoven tubes. The anastomosing of the tubes is so tight that it makes the impression of being solid perforated by small holes. There is a central apical oscule, and the sides are usually grooved and folded. The stalk is not clearly separate from the main body as is the case in the somewhat similar Guancha lacunosa. This is predominantly a Mediterranean species, which has been rarely recorded from the west coasts of France and Spain.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Yellowish, reddish or whitish.
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Pyriform sponges with a short stalk, not clearly separate from the main body. May also be epiphytic on algae. The body consists of a mass of intricately anastomosed tubes forming a complicated cormus. Surface perforated, often grooved or folded. Size may be considerable, up to 8 cm in diameter. Usually there is a single apical oscule with a raised rim, but without a fringe ("naked"). Consistency firm, compressible.
Spicules: Calcareous. Triactines and tetractines. Triactines regular, rays: 80-90 x 8-12 µm. Tetractines similar in size and form but with apical ray heavily spined: 80-90 x 6-10 µm (Clathrina cerebrum Haeckel).
Skeleton: Spicules are arranged in the walls of the tubes without differentiation; the apical rays of the tetractines are directed inwards into the choanocyte chamber.
Ecology: On rocks and the holdfasts of Laminaria in the sublittoral.
Distribution: Mediterranean, with occasional records from Brittanny and the west coast of Spain. Also reported from the southern hemisphere, but that needs verification.
Etymology: The name refers to the cormus of convoluted tubes resembling a brain.
Type specimen information: PMJ-Inv. Nr. Porif. 156. (Syntype/alcohol). Adriatic Sea (Lesina). Haeckel Collection (Klautau &Valentine, 2003).


The main difference with the very similar Clathrina cancellata is the spined apical ray of the tetractines; more subtle differences are the overal slightly smaller spicules.
This species may be confused with other globular or stalked Clathrinida, especially Guancha spp. The latter differ in having a stalk clearly separated from the main body. Also, spicule differences are clear: Guancha species of Western Europe lack tetractinees. Clathrina contorta may form loose globular shapes, but that species has diactines in the walls of the peripheral tubes.
Source: Burton, 1963.

Clathrina cerebrum