It’s easy to get excited about new fossil discoveries, but sometimes a second look at an old find can reveal something just as surprising.
They wash your dishes, your car, even your back. Sponges are a ubiquitous tool of the modern world—and have been since the earliest days of mediterranean culture—but how much do you really know about the absorbent little helper riding your kitchen sink's rim?
There's something completely fascinating in something so incredibly simple. Sponges—animals that can't walk or swim—are incredibly efficient at what they do and have a super fun history to them too. Watch Jonathan Bird explain how sponges work and where they come from in this Blue World clip.
Ctenophores, also known as the "comb jellies", are an ancient phyla of animals. They have no HOX genes, at least some of which are present in every other animal except themselves and sponges. They lack many of the basic immune system adaptations common to all other animals, including sponges.
At this point, it'd be more of a surprise if graphene wasn't an integral part of a mind-bending, record-setting new technology. But, of course, it is. Again. Enter the lightest material in the world: graphene aerogel.
Designed exclusively for plant lovers who just can't seem to get organized enough to keep their greenery alive, Stefano Claudio Bison's sponge pots absorb and hold onto as much moisture as possible every time they're watered. The pots are made from the same kind of sponges you wash your dishes or car with, and unlike…
The recently discovered harp sponge, Chondrocladia lyra, make not look like something you'd bring into the bathtub, but what it lacks in sponginess it more than makes up for in predatory behavior. The harp sponge uses those narrow spines to snare small fish and crustaceans, which it then digests whole.
Look at this piece of disgusting crap. It looks like something you could find in a clogged bathroom sink drain after not cleaning it for a decade. But as gross as it looks, it may be the key to our technological future.
In the evolution of organs, skin came first. The discovery that even sponges have a proto-skin shows that the separation of insides from outsides in multicellular animals was key to their evolution.
Researchers have discovered 650-to-640 million-year-old sponge fossils at Australia's Flinders Ranges. These fossils predate the oldest known animal fossils by 90 million years and antecede the blossoming of life during the Cambrian Explosion ~524 million years ago.
That tiny, plastic-looking black cube up there can absorb up to 180 times its own weight in toxic waste without absorbing any water. How? As with just about every amazing and/or inexplicable scientific breakthrough nowadays, the answer is spelled N-A-N-O.