We might think that sea sponges such as the Venus flower basket (Euplectella aspergillum) are simple creatures, but research has shown that they have some incredible features.
A new paper describes why they are special:
“The remarkable mechanical properties of biological structures, like tooth and bone, are often a consequence of their architecture. The tree ring-like layers that comprise the skeletal elements of the marine sponge Euplectella aspergillum are a quintessential example of the intricate architectures prevalent in biological structures. These skeletal elements, known as spicules, are hair-like fibers that consist of a concentric array of silica cylinders separated by thin, organic layers.”
The secret of their strength is in these tiny spicules:
“Thousands of spicules act like roots to anchor the sponge to the sea floor.”
Made of a glass-like substance, they bend but do not break.