Chondrillidae Gray, 1872,

Łukowiak, Magdalena, 2015, Late Eocene siliceous sponge fauna of southern Australia: reconstruction based on loose spicules record, Zootaxa 3917 (1), pp. 1-65: 40

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Chondrillidae Gray, 1872


Family Chondrillidae Gray, 1872 

Among numerous spherical microsclere spicules observed in the studied samples there are some that clearly resemble those of the Recent chondrosid genus Chondrilla Schmidt, 1862  . These are spherical microscleres (80–200 µm in diameter) with randomly, densely arranged, short to moderately long conical rays/projections ( Figs. 24View FIGURE 24 A –L). The most probable assumption is that these spicules belong to the ancestor of one of the species of Chondrilla  that currently inhabits Australian waters— Chondrilla australensis Carter, 1873  , Chondrilla secunda Lendenfeld, 1885  , Chondrilla mixta Schulze, 1877  , or Chondrilla linnaei Fromont, Usher, Sutton, Toze & Kuo, 2008  (Atlas of Living Australia). The spicules ( Figs. 24View FIGURE 24 B –L) resemble spicules of Chondrilla secunda  the most (compare with Fig. 26View FIGURE 26 B) but as in other cases described above the spicules of Recent Chondrilla secunda  are much smaller (15–100 µm) than the Eocene ones.

There are also spicules that clearly resemble those of the Recent Chondrilla nucula Schmidt, 1862  ( Fig. 24View FIGURE 24 A). However, the ones reported from the Eocene are about 80 µm in diameter and are bigger than the spicules of Ch. nucula  . Today, Chondrilla nucula  inhabits tropical and subtropical coasts of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (van Soest et al. 2013). However, there is a record of Chondrilla nucula  from New Zealand ( Burton 1934). Also Bergquist (1968) suspects the presence of C. nucula  in this region as she has noted that “chondrillid spicules occur in keratose sponges in northern waters (of New Zealand)” ( Bergquist 1968, p. 63). Also spicules of Ch. sacciformis Carter, 1879 b  , which is known from the neritic zone of the Indian Ocean and Indo-Malayan region (Wiedenmayer 1994; Dendy 1917, pl. 48, fig. 8 A), and Ch. linnaei  are somewhat similar but those described here are still, in my opinion, the most similar to those of Ch. nucula  . Generally, chondrillids are cosmopolitan and live in tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones ( Boury-Esnault 2002).

There are some records of pycnasters from the geological record, for instance from the Middle Oligocene Deep Sea Drilling Project cores from around Tasmania, that clearly resemble those described here (see Kennet et al. 1975, pl. 2, fig. 2). Pycnaster-like spicules (oxyspearasters) are also reported by Mostler (1990, pl. 5, figs. 12, 13) from the Jurassic of the Alps.