Home|Search|Identify|Taxonomic tree|Quiz|About this site|Feedback
Developed by ETI BioInformatics
Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
Synonyms and common names
Literature references
Images, audio and video
Links to other Web sites

(Bowerbank, 1866)

Species Overview

Mycale (Mycale) lingua (Bowerbank, 1866) is a greyish yellowish mass of lobes, often erect with a narrow base. The characteristic feature of this sponge is its furrowed surface; even after preservation, these grooves are still recognizable. It is an essentially deep water species, that comes into SCUBA depths (30 m) only at a few localities. It has a wide distribution over the Atlantic coasts of Europe.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Grey, pale buff; in alcohol pale yellow, whitish yellow or gray.
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Encrusting to massive lobose to massive fig-shaped. Variously described as being "roundish", "resembling the tongue of a sheep", or "an inverted triangular pyramid''. It is apparent that some specimens tend to grow in an erect, flattened form, with the attached base narrower than the apex. Grows up to 30 cms in height, with variable width and depth. Surface sulcate, the furrows forming an irregular reticulation over the surface (mycale_placoides.jpg). Within the furrows, the dermal membrane is smooth, elsewhere it is rather shaggy in appearance. Oscules are borne on shallow, transparent cones of height 2-3 mm, and have a diameter of 4-10 mm. The inhalent pores lie along the surface of the furrows, and can only be seen with the aid of a microscope in preserved material but are obvious in living specimens. The sulcate cracks close on collection. Consistency rather tough, very fibrous, but easily compressed.
Spicules: (Mycale lingua spics) Megascleres are styles, usually straight, occasionally slightly curved: 460-1150 x 13-20 µm. Their ends are variable in shape. The head may be that of a typical style, or may tend to be that of a subtylostyle, or may be constricted like a handle ("mycalostyles"). The points may be abrupt or long.
Microscleres are palmate anisochelae, sigmata and trichodragmas. The anisochelae fall into two distinct size classes: ca. 35 µm and 70 µm, the larger ones being found in rosettes, mainly near the dermal membrane; sigmata: ca. 16-32 µm; trichodragmas: 42-78 µm x 11-14 µm.
Skeleton: Ectosomal skeleton a mass of tangential spicules. Choanosomal skeleton plumoreticulate, consisting of ascending multispicular fibres of styles, with small amounts of spongin binding the fibres. Towards the surlace, some fibres run parallel to the surface, and some become splayed like a brush and penetrate the surface.
Ecology: Deeper water: found at depths between 30 and 2460 m. At depths accessible by SCUBA, the distribution is probably localised into discrete areas.
Distribution: Widely distributed over the north Atlantic, from the Azores to Spitzbergen. Also known from the Mediterranean. Recorded recently from Ushant and Ile de Vierge, Bretagne; Rathlin Island (N Ireland); Loch Sunart, Insh Island, and Bach Island, Firth of Lorne (Scotland); Faeroes.
Etymology: lingua (Latin) = tongue, referring to the shape.
Type specimen information: The type is in the Natural History Museum, London: BMNH 1930.7.3.235 (dry; as Raphiodesma). MCS voucher BELUM Mc1345. Brittany, France.


The furrowed grooves on the surface of the sponge are highly characteristic.
Source: Ackers et al., 1992

Mycale lingua