Sycettusa simplex ( Jenkin, 1908 )

Van, Rob W. M. & De, Nicole J., 2018, Calcareous sponges of the Western Indian Ocean and Red Sea, Zootaxa 4426 (1), pp. 1-160: 119-122

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Sycettusa simplex ( Jenkin, 1908 )


Sycettusa simplex ( Jenkin, 1908) 

Figs 73a–e View Figure , 74a–f View Figure

Grantessa simplex Jenkin, 1908: 446  , figs 93–97.

? Leuconia wasinensis  ; Burton 1959: 181 (not: Jenkin 1908)

Material examined. RMNHAbout RMNH Por. 10154, Maldives, Faafu Atoll, Wallstreet, 3.119°N 72.979556°E, depth 12 m, scuba, coll. N.J. de Voogd, field nr. MADAbout MAD 10/MAS115, 20 February 2015; ZMAAbout ZMA Por. 10338, Seychelles, Mahé, NE coast, Cap Maçons & Anse de Forbans, 4.7667°S 55.5167°E, reef, depth 0–6 m, snorkeling, coll. R.W.M. van Soest, field nr. NIOP-E stat. 612, 14 December 1992; ZMAAbout ZMA Por. 12446, Seychelles, Amirantes, St. François Atoll, 7.0833°S 52.7333°E, reef, depth 0–10 m, snorkeling, coll. J.C. den Hartog, field nr. NIOP-E stat. 792(bis)/27, 4 January 1993.

Description. Light beige-colored groups of longer and/or shorter tubes ( Fig. 73a View Figure ), somewhat tangled, occasionally divided or with a side tube. Size of individual tubes up to 6 cm or more long, 0.5 cm wide. Surface uneven or slightly hispid. Oscules terminal, usually surrounded by a circle of diactines and/or trichoxeas. Beige color persists in alcohol ( Figs. 73b–c View Figure ). Consistency soft, slightly firm.

Aquiferous system. Syconoid.

Skeleton. ( Figs. 73d–e View Figure ) Inarticulate, with a cortical skeleton of regular or slightly sagittal triactines, subectosomal pseudosagittal triactines, the long paired actines forming the choanosomal skeleton together with the unpaired actines of subatrial sagittal triactines, and with an atrial skeleton of regular or slightly sagittal triactines smaller than those of the cortical skeleton. Diactines are present in the oscular region and also occur scattered in the choanosome supporting the inarticulated skeleton.

Spicules. ( Figs 74a–f View Figure ) Diactines, trichoxeas, cortical and atrial triactines, pseudosagittal triactines, sagittal triactines.

Diactines ( Fig. 74a View Figure ), fusiform, usually with one end lance-headed, variable in length, 210– 701 – 1140 x 13 – 25.8 –36 µm.

Trichoxeas ( Fig. 74b View Figure ), small, mostly broken, 120– 182 –235 x 2 – 2.4 –3.5 µm.

Cortical triactines ( Figs. 74c View Figure ), variable in shape, from equiangular equiradiate to sagittal or irregular, actines 183– 219 –288 x 12 – 17.4 –24 µm.

Pseudosagittal triactines ( Figs 74d View Figure ), in a large size range, longest actines 241– 369 –504 x 18 – 21.4 –30 µm, middle sized actines (usually the unpaired actine), 138– 186 –228 x 15 – 19.7 –30 µm, shortest actines 64– 132 –241 x 14 – 18.9 –26 µm.

Sagittal triactines ( Figs 74e View Figure ), variable in shape and in thickness, paired actines often almost forming T-shape, but occasionally more acutely angled, unpaired actines 396– 436 –538 x 17 – 29.6 –44 µm, paired actines 179– 232 –282 x 19 – 26.7 –39 µm.

Atrial triactines ( Fig. 74f View Figure ), regular, slightly sagittal or occasionally irregular, unpaired actine 114– 142 –181 x 10 – 11.4 –14 µm, paired actines 101– 154 –201 x 9 – 10.4 –12 µm.

Distribution and ecology. Maldives, Seychelles, Zanzibar, on reefs in shallow water.

Remarks. Jenkin’s type material is closely similar both in shape and spicule sizes and shapes. Our identification with his species is made with confidence.

The three samples assigned here to S. simplex  have similar spiculation as S. stauridia  described below. The differences between the two species appear to be largely attributable to growth form, which is known to be a variable feature in many sponges. In contrast, 28S sequences of the two species were found to be substantially different (cf. Fig. 3 View Figure ). Molecularly, S. simplex  is almost identical to S. hastifera  , as we found only a single site difference in the above described inspection of a trimmed alignment of 403 sites, whereas differences between S. simplex  and S. stauridia  numbered 22 sites.

Voigt et al. (2012) sequenced a Seychelles specimen, ZMA Por. 11566 under the name S. simplex  , but we reidentified this material as S. zanzibarensis ( Jenkin, 1908)  (see below).

Leucortis anguinea Ridley, 1884  from Providence in the Mascarene Islands is a Sycettusa  according to Burton (1963). It has a shape reminding a bit of the present species, but the specimen is not likely the same as the present species judging from the description in Ridley 1884 (p. 629, pl. 53L, 54d), as it includes tetractines.

Sycettusa sibogae ( Burton, 1930)  as redescribed by Van Soest & De Voogd (2015) is similar to the present species, but has no giant diactines and its cortical triactines are twice as large.

We reexamined Leuconia wasinensis sensu Burton, 1959  from South Arabia (Murray Expedition station 45 nr. 537) kept in the Natural History Museum (BMNH 1936.3.4.537) and found this to be very similar to Sycettusa simplex  . Its identity cannot be Leucandrilla wasinensis  as it has a smooth tubular shape, not oval and hispid; it lacks an apical fringe and its skeleton is inarticulate. The subcortical triactines are pseudosagittal and both cortical and atrial skeleton consist of smaller triactines.


National Museum of Natural History, Naturalis


Madras Museum


Universiteit van Amsterdam, Zoologisch Museum














Sycettusa simplex ( Jenkin, 1908 )

Van, Rob W. M. & De, Nicole J. 2018


Grantessa simplex

: 446


Leuconia wasinensis

: 181