Data from: Three-dimensionally preserved soft-tissues and calcareous hexactins in a Silurian sponge: implications for early sponge evolution.
Nadhira, Ardianty et al. (2019), Data from: Three-dimensionally preserved soft-tissues and calcareous hexactins in a Silurian sponge: implications for early sponge evolution., Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8mv00jv
Sponges (Porifera), as one of the earliest-branching animal phyla, are crucial for understanding early metazoan phylogeny. Recent studies of Lower Palaeozoic sponges have revealed a variety of character states and combinations unknown in extant taxa, challenging our views of early sponge morphology. The Herefordshire Konservat-Lagerstätte yields an abundant, diverse sponge fauna with three-dimensional preservation of spicules and soft tissue. Carduispongia pedicula gen. et sp. nov. possesses a single layer of hexactine spicules arranged in a regular orthogonal network. This spicule type and arrangement is characteristic of the reticulosans, which have traditionally been interpreted as early members of the extant siliceous class Hexactinellida. However, the unusual preservation of the spicules of C. pedicula reveals an originally calcareous composition, which would be diagnostic of the living class Calcarea. The soft tissue architecture closely resembles the complex sylleibid or leuconid structure seen in some modern calcareans and homoscleromorphs. This combination of features strongly supports a skeletal continuum between primitive calcareans and hexactinellid siliceans, indicating that the last common ancestor of Porifera was a spiculate, solitary, vasiform animal with a thin skeletal wall.