Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Harp Sponge
Image 703
Common Name Lyre Sponge
Range Northeast Pacific Ocean, off the coast of northern California at the Escanaba Ridge and the Monterey Canyon
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Porifera
Class Demospongiae
Order Poecilosclerida
Family Cladorhizidae
Genus Chondrocladia
Species Chondrocladia lyra

The Harp sponge or lyre sponge, (Chondrocladia lyra), is a new species of carnivorous deep-sea demosponges first discovered off the California coast living at depths of 10,800–11,500 feet (3,300–3,500 m) by Welton L. Lee, Henry M Reiswig, William C. Austin, and Lonny Lundsten from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

The species was listed among the Top 10 New Species 2013 discovered in 2012 as selected by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University out of more than 140 nominated species. The selection was publicised on May 22 2013.


The Chondrocladia lyra is named the harp sponge because its basic structure resembles a harp or lyre. It is a sessile organism which anchors itself to the soft seafloor using a rhizoid, a root-like structure that embeds into the sea floor. From the top of the rhizoid, 1 to 6 horizontal, equidistant stolons with vertical branches form the 'vanes' of the sponge (this is evident in all of Chondrocladia). Depending on the number, the vanes display pentaradiate, tetra radiate, or biradiate symmetries. The vanes give the Harp sponge its harp-like structure and these are covered in velcro-like hooks and spines, which it uses to snare prey that drift past it in currents. Of the specimens found, the largest recorded is nearly 60 centimeters in length.