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(Bowerbank, 1845)

Species Overview

Sycon elegans (Bowerbank, 1845) is a small cylindrical calcareous sponge similar to other Sycon species, but with a characteristic "tessellated" surface, i.e. has a regular polygonal pattern (low magnification). The surface is more or less smooth.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Dark yellow to whitish grey.
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Small cylinders with a short apical fringe and more or less smooth surface, that shows a characteristic reticulated appearance at low magnification. Size up to 1-2 cm high, 0.5 cm wide. Consistency fragile.
Spicules: Calcareous. Triactines, in several categories: those of the distal cone are thickened, with paired rays 50-90 x 25-35 µm, basal ray 200-400 x 25-35 µm; those of the radial tubes have paired rays 80 x 10 and basal rays 120 x 10 µm; subatrial triactines with paired rays 80-100 x 10 µm, basal rays 100-120 x 10 µm; atrial triactines with rays 120 x 8 µm, basal rays: 80 x 8 µm.
Ttetractines of the atrial wall, similar to atrial triactines, apical rays 120-160 x 12-16 µm.
Oxeas: 200-250 x 3-20 µm.
Skeleton: (Sycon elegans skel) Radial tubes lined with triactines, distal cones ornamented with oxeas and thickened triactines. Atrial skeleton of triactines and tetractines.
Reproduction: July-August.
Ecology: In sea grass beds, on Corallina, on rocks in the sublittoral, 0-24 m.
Distribution: Channel Islands, Roscoff, Iles de Glénan; Mediterranean, Canary islands.
Type specimen information: BMNH 1910.1.1.679 (wet + slides), Norman Collection.


The "tessellated" appearance of the surface is the most reliable identification character. In spiculation this species resembles S. humboldti, but the oxeas of the apical fringe are much longer in that species.
Source: Burton, 1963.

Sycon elegans