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(Vosmaer, 1882b)

Species Overview

Iophon piceum (Vosmaer, 1882b) is a brown to blackish leaf-shaped or cup-shaped sponge with irregular rim and a grooved surface. It is soft and easily damaged. It is a northern deep-water species.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Dark brown to blackish (alcohol), possibly lighter coloured.
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Leaf-shaped, or irregularly cup-shaped. Size up to 16.5 cm high; leaf thickish. Surface grooved, irregular, but otherwise smooth. Oscules and pores in grooves on opposite sides of the leaf surface. Consistency soft, easily damaged.
Spicules: (Iophon piceus spics) Megascleres: Ectosomal tylotes with extensively spined heads: 218-311 x 5-10 µm; acanthostyles, in a large size variation but not distinguished in two categories, curved, variably spined all over or only sparingly near both ends: 239-450 x 15-36 µm. Microscleres: Spurred anisochelae, of variable size, possibly in two size categories: 15-36 µm; bipocillae, rounded, with numerous fine teeth on the rims, in a single category: 8-14 µm.
Skeleton: Ectosomal skeleton is made up of tylote brushes, which are partially tangential arranged in intercrossing bundles. Choanosomal skeleton a rather tight-meshed multispicular isotropic reticulation, rather irregular, with little binding spongin.
Ecology: In deep water: 80-1785 m.
Distribution: Norway, Sweden, Faroes, Arctic.
Etymology: piceus (Latin) = pitch-black, referring to the colour.
Type specimen information: The type is in the Zoological Museum of Amsterdam, ZMA POR. 410.


This species has been variously divided up into four subspecies (Koltun, 1959) or synonymized with Iophon nigricans. It admittedly is close to the latter, but in view of the distinct upright leaf-shaped growth form and the distinctly larger acanthostyles it is proposed here to keep piceus as a separate species.
Source: Arndt, 1935.

Iophon piceum