Pellina pencilliformis van Soest & Sass, 1981
Taxonomic Characterization: Creeping "stolons" with upright branches, infrequently and irregularly anastomosing. Branches thin walled, hollow, up to 25 cm long, up to 1 cm in diameter; lateral expansion indefinite. Consistency slightly brittle, extremely fragile (van Soest & Sass, 1981).
Disposition of Specimens: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, catalog numbers USNM 31744-5; and Zoological Museum Amsterdam catalog number POR 4579.
Ecological Classification: Stygobitic
Size: Spicule size 342-368.1-390/9-11.1-13. Size of fistules is 25/1 cm
Number of Species in Genus: Eleven, all marine
Species Range: Known only from Lighthouse Cave, San Salvador Island, Bahamas.
Closest Related Species: Morphologically, P. pencillformis is closely related to P. eusiphonia Ridley, 1884
Habitat: Anchialine limestone caves
Ecology: Found in fully marine salinities on rocks and on soft sediment at the bottom of pools; always submerged, more frequent at depths of 2-3 m. Found with two other marine sponges, Prosuberites geracei van Soest & Sass, 1981 and Cinachyra subterranea van Soest & Sass, 1981. In addition, Lighthouse Cave is inhabited by species of cirolanid isopods, phoronid worms, ostracods, gastropods, amphipods and more.
Evolutionary Origins: It is believed that this species of sponge originated from a marooned population of a marine shallow-water species at least 23,000 years ago. Such a rate of speciation seems quite high, when compared to the evidence of slow evolution in tropical sponges. On the other hand, the cave situation very likely speeded up the development of morphological changes due to inbreeding (van Soest & Sass, 1981).
Conservation Status: Restricted to a single anchialine cave
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