August 12, 2022
Image credit: Video from Current Biology/Kornder et al.
We are fascinated by these images of a sneezing sea sponge.
Far from being unique to humans – you’ve probably seen your pet do it – sneezing doesn’t require a nervous system or even a nose (!) and is as old as some of the world’s first multicellular animals: sponges. , which have been around for a long time. 600 million years old.
Recent research published in Current Biology by Jasper de Goeij, a marine ecologist at the University of Amsterdam, and his colleagues found that sponges “sneeze” in what appears to be a self-cleaning technique, releasing particles of wastes in the mucus through their ostia (little mouths).
“A sponge is basically an animal that has many small mouths and one or more larger outflow openings, called an oscula. [where water flows out].
After extensive study, researchers have come to the conclusion that sneezing out waste-laden mucus is a common tactic among sponges around the world.
As for what happens to mucus once it’s out, well Jasper and his friends say sea sponge snot helps feed other marine organisms.
Let’s hope so, otherwise we’re all swimming in a sea full of snot…