Porifera (Sponges) from the Permian Fort Apache Limestone East of Payson

Above: Today sponges come in a bewildering array of morphological forms, from flower, tubes, fan , and pipe shapes.

Updated  10/2/17

 Fort Apache sponges are quite uncommon, only one sizable specimen was obtained from over 200 pounds in rock. But it is well preserved, and show the major features of fossil sponges from the Paleozoic. To be more precise, from our first locality, where nearly all the ostracods came from - we had no sponge material at all. The second new site, a half a mile further down the trail produced this specimen from about 35 pounds in limestone. They were also with numerous bryozoans and gastropods in the same mix. The one sponge we found is a calcareous type sponge that have been preserved by silica replacement.

 Basic anatomy of a standard sponge. The osculum which is the exhalant opening is visible in one specimen, as well as the canals that connect to the outside for bringing in water. The other sponge is more amorphous, and could have had many irregular shapes.

 This is the largest specimen we found, it was in a class by itself! About 4 cm long and about 1 cm thick, this fragment of a large irregular sponge had excellent pore and ostium details. A millimeter scale is at bottom. 3.5x view.
 A closer 7x view of its surface reveals the very "spongy" appearance of the type you might wash your car with. The holes are the pores which take in water to an interior cavity for respiration and feeding on plankton. If this was a part of a large flat sponge, those larger holes might be the osculums and the tiny surface pores the in current holes.
 Even closer at 20x, this shows the pore details more clearly in a massive 16 focus layers stacked image.

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