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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SpongeBob SquarePants Fungi (Really!) and Possible Sponge Precursor

          Spongiforma squarepantsii is a species of fungus, genus Spongiforma. It was found and described in 2011 in Malaysia. It produces sponge-like, rubbery orange fruit bodies that have a musky or fruity odor.

      And the name comes from the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, of course.

      Like a sponge, these fungi resume their original shape if water is squeezed out. The spores, produced on the surfaces of the hollows of the sponge, are almond-shaped. 

       I discovered the Spongiforma squarepantsii fungi in researching this microfossil which may be a precursor [put your cursor in front ;-)] to the sponge family itself:

      This well-preserved 600-million-year-old fossil shows actual cells that make it an excellent candidate for an ancestor of sponge animals.

      The new discovery, named Eocyathispongia qiania, is a single fossil found in China. Yet its three tubular chambers arising from a base and its visible parts of cells resemble sponges according to  Zongjun Yin et al of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing  in the yesterday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

         Looking at the fossil with X-rays and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the researchers saw cells that resemble modern sponges’ outer structural elements, called pinacocytes (still looking for a pinacolada connection there via pineapple bract structure ;-) ). 

          The link to the Science News article includes this description of this possible sponge ancestor:

         "Some surface cells are signs of pores, like those that let water swoosh into modern sponges. And a patch inside one of the tubes has pits encircled by raised collars. These could be an early version of the cells called choanocytes, distinctive cells in modern sponges that move water through the animal."

           Further examples and connections are needed to make a definitive connection from this single microfossil to the sponges. . .perhaps to SpongeRobert SquarishPants?

SBSP to all you fun guys,




  1. Some of these are really funny: States as food puns. I enjoyed AVOCOLORADO, of course.

    1. Where are MINNESODA and WI-SCONE-SIN?

      When I go fishin' down at the Rock-skippin' Pond, Paw, can I use those spongy fungi th ings as Bobbers?


    2. Those would fit right in Lego. Wonder why they only showed 1/2 of the states.

      Had you heard of the fungi with the SpongeBob SquarePants name before?

    3. Scientific Steph,
      No, I had not heard of this before. But, of course, I just heard last Thursday that we landed a man on the moon.

      But I have heard this.

      My head is not completely in the sand, however, when it comes to things scientific. I have heard rumors that this coming August at the best state fair in the nation, the Minnesota State Fair, there will be an attraction in which adventurous people can plunk down five fins, climb a ladder to a platform suspended 200 feet above the midway, and jump into a pit chock full of Spongiforma squarepantsii!!

      They call it fungi jumping.


    4. Great recording! My mom loves to say "Is there a fungus among us?!"

      Fungi jumping--well worth the trip, Lego. Thanks.

  2. Naming organisms for celebrities is nothing new. I didn't see other toons on the list, though Matt Groening comes close. Odd that there are no beetles named for the Beatles. But I'm glad Michael Crichton got a dinosaur. And with all the eponymous wasps, how come Sting just got a frog?

    1. Geez, what a list! I was surprised. And no rules about the person needing to be dead to get naming rights.

      I would rather have a frog over a wasp, all Stinging aside.

    2. Even among fictional characters, SpongeBob isn't unique.

      Check out these lists and sites:

      (I love Phthiria relativitae.)

    3. These are great, jan. Glad to have stayed tooned. Good to see SBSP highlighted in the lists, too.

      What's science without a little whimsy?

  3. Speaking of epigrams, or at least bon mots, March 12 is the anniversary of the 1952 appointment of NATO's first Secretary General, Hastings Ismay, who declared that the purpose of the European alliance was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down."

    1. I feel kinda left out not having an organism named after me. Or an element. Or an elephant.

      I think Hastings Ismay's wife was named Esme. Ms. Esme Ismay. Before he came to NATO, Hastings played shortstop in the Pig Latin League. He played under his nickname, Illyway Ismay.

      LepidopteroLambda (aka "the woolly butterfly")

  4. Speaking of packing a lot into a few words, have you read this before?

    The limerick packs laughs anatomical
    Into space that is quite economical.
    But the good ones I’ve seen
    So seldom are clean
    And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

  5. So, The Northeast is covered in snow and Lake Erie is pretty much frozen solid, and it'll be months before the ocean here is swimmable, and NASA picks today to let us know that both Enceladus and Ganymeded have warm oceans. I ask you, is that fair?

    1. Those are some deep oceans!

      70 degrees here this week . . .so no complaints! Auto correct didn't fix no compliants, I did ;-).

  6. Replies
    1. Great, comprehensive link, Steph. As the "big day" nears I increasingly realize that Pi Day is not a celebration of Pi but of Math/Science geekiness!


  7. 3/14/15 9:26:53 -- at long last it's here!

    Why Pi Matters

  8. While we're still basking in the flow of yesterday's Pi Day of the Century, this nice animated gif, and getting out on my bike for the first time since early January, got me thinking. I've got a cyclocomputer on my bike, which I had to program with the circumference of my front tire when I installed it. The measurement setup looked like the gif: With the valvestem at the bottom, I marked the spot on the garage floor under the valvestem, rolled the bike forward one revolution, marked the spot under the valvestem again, and measured the distance between the marks. The computer reads close to, but not quite equal to, the posted measured 1/2 mile distance at one point on my ride. So, maybe my measurement wasn't so good, or maybe the posted measured 1/2 mile isn't, or maybe the computer is programmed wrong, or maybe the wireless transmitter misses a revolution here and there. My theoretical question is: Could it be that I wasn't on the bike, flattening out the tire, when I measured the tire circumference? (Flattening ∝ fattening!) I.e., what does the flattening of a pneumatic tire under load do to the circumference? Please show all work.

    1. Darn. Make that "glow", not "flow".

    2. We are so gif-ted! Thanks!

      Not sure about the math with your bike wheel circumference but you may be onto something with measuring while loaded ;-).

      Measuring in CO is a little more difficult as all the 420 mile marker signs have been replaced with 419.9 ones. The 420 signs never stayed up for long!

  9. Replies
    1. Any effects your way? Green sun flares? ;-)

    2. Anyone see the aurora borealis tonight?

      New post on malachite is now up. Enjoy the green today!