While many of them live in marine

While some may call them simple, sponges and cnidarians have some amazing abilities. This lesson tells the story these ocean invertebrates, ranging from sponges to coral to jellyfish.

Marine Invertebrates

At least 97 percent of the world’s animal life is made up of invertebrates, which are animals lacking a backbone that protects the spinal column. So, it’s probably no surprise that many of them live in marine environments. After all, being supported by water means that there is less need for the postural support that a backbone provides.In fact, some of the largest animals in the ocean, such as the giant squid, are invertebrates. But right now, we’re going to focus on two much smaller marine invertebrates: sponges and cnidarians.

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Sponges

Sponges are aquatic invertebrates with squishy, porous bodies. They can be found on the seafloor and atop rocks. They are among the oldest species on Earth, and scientists have discovered some sponge fossils older than dinosaurs. One reason for the species’ survival is that they can grow and thrive in some of the most hostile conditions, ranging from polar depths to caves that receive little light or nourishment.Sponges are known for their famous shape and their porous texture. The pores allow the sponge to work as a sort of filter. It takes in the water and feeds on the tiny microorganisms that come with it.

That’s why these creatures were once used as household sponges – the kind you use to wash your dishes. Today, we usually spare the underwater sponges and instead use man-made sponges for household cleaning.As relatively simple creatures, sponges can produce with or without a mate.

In fact, they have a variety of methods of reproduction. Some sponges will reproduce through a process known as regeneration, which is when it releases part of itself and that fragment of the sponge turns into a new sponge entirely. The lost fragment on the original sponge grows back.

Some sponges may release larvae that swim about looking for a suitable place to spend a few thousand years. That’s right, some sponges can live for thousands of years.

Cnidarians

While most people are familiar with sponges, they may be left scratching their heads at the mention of cnidarians, a phylum of aquatic invertebrates that includes everything from coral to jellyfish.

Like sponges, cnidarians are believed to be one of the first multicellular forms of life on Earth. There are more than 9,000 species of cnidarians, and they have different structures, aquatic habitats, and ways of acquiring food. However, most cnidarians, like their friends the sponges, feed on microorganisms.

Some filter water through their pores to collect food. Others, like jellyfish, use spiny barbs that contain venom to disable their prey.Cnidarians do have one thing in common that makes them very unique.

Whereas many other animals have a digestive tract with a beginning and an end, cnidarians typically have more of a digestive chamber. They swallow the prey, often with the help of their tentacles, and then let their bodies absorb the nutrients. Afterwards, they discard the rest of the creature to the sea.

This chamber takes up much of the body of the cnidarian. Finally, the size of cnidarians ranges greatly. The polyps that make up a coral reef may only be millimeters in size, while some large jellyfish can reach lengths that are greater than the width of a football field.

Lesson Summary

Ninety-eight percent of the world’s animal life is made up of invertebrates, animals lacking a backbone that protects the spinal column.

There are millions of species of marine invertebrates, ranging from sea horses to colossal squid. In this lesson, we focused on two phyla of marine invertebrates: sponges and cnidarians.Sponges are familiar to most of us. They are aquatic invertebrates with squishy, porous bodies found on the seafloor and atop rocks.

They are among the most ancient organisms on Earth, dating back before the dinosaurs. Sponges get their distinctive shape because of their need to filter water in order to gain access to their food, microorganisms. They can reproduce through a number of ways, including regeneration, in which a sponge will release part of itself and the fragment of the sponge will create a new animal entirely.Cnidarians, on the other hand, are much more diverse. This class of aquatic invertebrates includes everything from coral to jellyfish.

There are more than 10,000 species of cnidarians, with different structures, aquatic habits, and ways of acquiring food. Most have one unique feature: they have digestive chambers instead of complete digestive tracts.

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