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Stephens, 1916

Species Overview

Axinella pyramidata Stephens, 1916 is a short-stalked flattened Axinella reported from deeper water off the west and north coasts of Ireland and France. It is ill-known and needs to be critically compared with A. damicornis and A. alba.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: No data from original description. Grey or off-white according to Picton & Goodwin (2007).
Shape, size, surface and consistency: In shape it somewhat like a three-sided pyramid standing on its apex, except that the sides are deeply cut vertically into a series of flattened lobes. The upper surface is flat, but here and there it rises into small knob-like elevations. Height 15 mm, diameter 17 mm.
Spicules: (Axinella pyramidata spics) Styles variable: about 230-1000 x 5-16 µm; in the shorter styles the shaft is rather sharply bent at a little distance above the head; the longer styles are usually slightly curved; there is sometimes a slight swelling on the shaft a little distance above the head. Oxeas: 300-850 x 6-13 µm; they are sharply and irregularly bent and taper at either end to a rather sharp point; many of the oxeas have a slight swelling about the middle of the spicule. Trichodragmata 1-11 by <0.2 µm (newly recorded by Picton & Goodwin, 2007).
Skeleton: This consists of closely set plumose columns of spicules which run upwards through the sponge, and then bend out towards the surface, where they end in brushes of styles which project for part of their length beyond the surface; a considerable amount of spongin is present, cementing the spicules together.
Ecology: 25-99 m.
Distribution: Off SW Ireland, Northern Ireland, Faroes, Roscoff; ?West Africa.
Etymology: The name refers to the shape.
Type specimen information: National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, Spicule preparation and tissue section. NMI W.141.15.1916.


Spiculation is similar to Axinella damicornis and that species may form rather squat individuals which approach A. pyramidata in form. A description of recent material from Northern Ireland is found in Picton & Goodwin, 2007.
The specimen recorded from West Africa (Burton, 1956) (Axinella pyramidata Burton) may not be conspecific with Stephens' specimen.
Source: Stephens, 1916; Picton & Goodwin, 2007.

Axinella pyramidata