Sponges sneeze, too: University of Alberta research

(YouTube screengrab)

(YouTube screengrab)

Trevor Robb, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

EDMONTON -- For the past four years, Danielle Ludeman has been carefully watching freshwater sponges sneeze at the University of Alberta.

Ludeman has been working under the supervision of Sally Leys, Canada research chair in evolutionary developmental biology.

It was 10 years ago when Leys saw a video from Japan on how scientists cultured sponges in a lake. They would use Japanese calligraphy ink and watch as the sponge would, over time, seemingly sneeze out the ink.

“The sponge carried out these series of contractions that was clearly getting rid of the material and I thought to myself that is not an animal without any behaviour,” said Leys.

Sponges were previously believed to be primitive organisms without a nervous system, but these latest findings challenge those assumptions and show that sponges do indeed have a sensory organ.

Ludeman and Leys began collecting sponges and used a variety of drugs to cause the sponges to sneeze — observing the behaviour by using fluorescent dye.


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