Carnivorous sponge, Chondrocladia lyra, found off the coast of California

Carnivorous sponge, staring at the camera - waiting to pounce on the photographer!It was only about 20 years ago that scientists discovered that some sponges are carnivorous, meaning – they eat other animals! Since then, scientists have identified about a half-dozen of the squishy little slayers. Today, we add four new species to the list. The newly discovered carnivorous sponges live on the deep seafloor in the Pacific around California. At the moment of discovery, the scientist attributed with the amazing new find, was reported to have said, with great excitement and zeal, “Where’s my finger?!?”

Sponges are usually filter feeders, meaning they live off of bacteria and other single-celled organisms that are found in the water. They trap the little critters using bazillions of special cells called Choancytes. Choancytes have whip-like tails which swirl the water around and draw tiny bits of bacteria food to the sponge. The new carnivorous sponges don’t have choancytes and instead, have horror-movie-like appendages that look more like “bare twigs or small shrubs covered with tiny hairs”. These allow the killer sponges to trap and eat larger prey, like worms and crustaceans and who knows, if they can grow large enough – maybe people! Aaahhhhh!!!!

Meat-eating sponge (Abyssocladia), recently discovered in New Zealand, getting ready to consume a full-grown human

Sources: Live Science, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

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