Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fossil deep water sponges are similar to modern sponge assemblages


German-Chinese team of scientists studies 445 million year old sediments

Fossils and sediments from deep sea zones of some thousand meters are extremely rare. Therefore, biodiversity and evolution of life in those zones are rarely explored. A German-Chinese team of scientists with participation from Göttingen University has analysed about 445 million year old shale sediments in Anhui province, South China.

Conceptual model of migration of sponges to relatively shallow water to escape from anoxic and sulphidic water (white arrow) and burial by mud turbidites (red arrow).

Image: Lixia Li und Joachim Reitner

The scientists found fossil sponge assemblages which migrated from deep water to higher ecological sea zones and which are similar to modern deep sea sponges. The results were published in Scientific Reports.

The great ice-age 445 million years ago resulted in massive ecological changes and a mass extinction of marine life. With the start of the so called recovery, the deep water sponge assemblages moved to a much higher located zone with relatively shallow water, the shelf.

“We assume that the sponges escaped from the then anoxic and sulphidic deep water”, Göttingen geobiologist Prof. Dr. Joachim Reitner says. In addition, on the shelf the sponges were buried rapidly by mud turbidities. Due to migration and burial the fossils in the analysed sediments are well-preserved, so that the scientists are the first to record sponge fossils in China.

The fossils match with modern deep water sponge assemblage. The observed assemblage is dominated by lyssakine “soft” hexactinellids (60 percent) that are typically found in deep zones of the sea. Some of them match morphologically with modern Rosella-types often found in Antarctic deep water.

Modern characteristics were found in a second group of sponges found by the scientists called demospongiae.

“These many matches show the extreme steadiness of ecological zones in deep water. This explains why the evolution of organism assemblages is slow”, Prof. Reitner says. “After the total recovery of the ecosystem the sponges re-moved to deep water zones. Those temporary movements in ecological zones are also known from other mass extinctions.”

The geobiological research in South China is a cooperation of the Faculty of Geosciences and Geography, Department of Geobiology, of Göttingen University with the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Science and the School of Earth Sciences and Engineering of Nanjing University. The research project was embedded in the “Göttingen-Nanjing Geobiology Lectures” to promote research-led teaching.

Original publication:
Lixia Li, Hongzhen Feng, Dorte Janussen, Joachim Reitner (2015): Unusual Deep Water sponge assemblage in South China – Witness of the end-Ordovician mass extinction. Scientific Reports, 5:16060, doi: 10.1038/srep16060,

Contact address:
Prof. Dr. Joachim Reitner
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Geosciences and Geography – Geobiology
Goldschmidtstrasse 3, 37073 Göttingen
Phone: +49 (0)551 39-7950

Weitere Informationen:

Romas Bielke | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>