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Van Soest and Stone, 1986

Species Overview

Antho (Antho) brattegardi Van Soest and Stone (1986) is a thinly encrusting orange microcionid, which can only be reliably identified from a microscopical examination of the spicules. It has a unique feature in the possession of numerous crocae (tiny walking stick-like spicules); otherwise it is closely related to Antho (Acarnia) coriacea. It has been found in Norwegian fjords, off the Hebrides and at Rathlin Island at 35-120 m depth.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Orange (cream in alcohol).
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Thinly incrusting on barnacles: surface microhispid, oscules not apparent, size several mm2, uniformly about 1 mm thick. Consistency fragile, crumbly.
Spicules: (Antho brattegardi spics) Megascleres: Ectosomal subtylostyles with microspined heads: 220-410 by 3-5 µm; choanosomal smooth styles, almost straight: 442-765 by 8 µm; choanosomal smaller styles with acanthose heads, almost straight-shafted: 160-195 by 10 µm; choanosomal acanthostrongyles of primary tracts, entirely but sparsely spined: 90-115 by 2-8 µm; choanosomal acanthostrongyles of connectives, entirely but sparsely spined, often more pronounced at the ends, very slightly curved shaft: 125-130 by 2-8 µm.
Microscleres: Palmate isochelae: 17-24 µm (Antho brattegardi chela); toxas in two size categories: 140-160 µm and 30-40 µm; J-shaped spicules (crocae): 10-14 by 0.5 µm (croca).
Skeleton: Ectosomal: hispid due to large choanosomal styles piercing the organic skin, which is strengthened by tangential bundles of subtylostyles. Choanosomal: a basal anisotropic reticulation of acanthostrongyles forming a rectangular mesh; sides of mesh of unequal length, i.e. ascending primary tracts composed of 2 or 3 smaller acanthostrongyles, reinforced by long overlapping styles, connected by 1 or 2 larger acanthostrongyles, forming the connectives, a spicule length in width; brushes of 2 or 3 larger slightly diverging smooth styles project at the surface; they are the terminal continuations of the choanosomal primary tracts, and span an askeletal zone (though filled with cells and mesohyl) covering ca. 1/3 body depth, before they pierce the surface; the primary tract configuration gives a scalariform pattern to the skeleton: spongin is present at the nodes.
Ecology: On barnacle-encrusted stones, exposed to occasional strong currents, on rocky clifss and on deep-water corals, at 35-143 m,.
Distribution: Known from the Bergen area, Norway, Mingulay (Scotland) cold water reefs and Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland.
Etymology: Named after Torleiv Brattegard, Director of the Bergen Marine Station during the 80's.
Type specimen information: The holotype is in the Amsterdam Museum, ZMA POR. 5190, N of Björöy, 60°20'N 15°10'3"E. A schizotype is deposited in the Natural History Museum, London, BMNH 1982:9:6:1.


The distinctive feature of the present species is the J-shaped spicule, for which the name 'croca' is proposed, derived from Medieval English 'crok(e)', meaning shepherd's crook, based on Scandinavian or Icelandic krok(r)' = hook. Similar spicules are known from Californian Antho (Antho) jia De Laubenfels (1930). The genus Jia De Laubenfels (1930) was founded especially on the crocae in combination with an otherwise microcionid spicule complement. We do not think that the crocae constitute a generic character in spite of the fact that a second species with approximately the same spicule complement has been found. In other characters, such as the architecture of the skeleton, both species agree with Antho and neither can be differentiated from the remaining species of that genus.
Source: Van Soest and Stone, 1986.

Antho brattegardi