By Janet Moore

ISBN-10: 0521857368

ISBN-13: 9780521857369

Moore's advent is short, yet informative. established within the commonplace structure for a zoology textbook, she covers the fundamentals speedy and good, after which increases attention-grabbing questions that pertain to no matter what phylum is in query. Having already performed coursework in invertebrates, i discovered this a very good refresher and nonetheless jam-packed with issues i didn't understand (or had thoroughly forgotten).

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Sponges produce bioactive compounds, some of which may directly benefit us: for example a sponge long used by New Zealand Maoris to promote wound healing has been found to contain high concentrations of a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Antimicrobial action is often found; a growing list of such examples emphasises that we need to conserve the biochemical diversity of sponges. 5 How are sponges related to other phyla? This question has aroused much speculation. For a time sponges were separated from all other multicellular animals as a subkingdom, the Parazoa, and stigmatised as a ‘side issue’.

Poke it, and about 10 minutes later the osculum will close. It is not clear how this contractility is achieved, but occurring round the oscula there are some amoebocytes called ‘myocytes’, that are particularly rich in microfilaments and microtubules. There is some evidence that myocytes may contain the fibrils (actin and myosin) which are the basis of contraction in all other animals investigated (and even in some unicells). Nor is it clear how cells can be re-extended, except by the pull of neighbouring cells, but water pumping must help to retain the shape of the sponge.

The Yangtse Gorge in south China (580 Ma and earlier) has phosphorite deposits that recently have provided us with most striking early fossils. In addition to undoubted sponges, revealed by cellular imprints as well as spicules, there are early stages of embryonic cleavage, two- and four-cell stages and later ones with many blastomeres. Was there a ‘Cambrian Explosion’? That is a correct description of the fossil record as we have it. Yet the different phyla (or groups of phyla) must have separated considerably earlier, probably in the form of animals too small to be recognisable among the single-celled fossils known from the very earliest rocks.

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