The Phylum Porifera includes the animals commonly known as sponges. This is a diverse group, with about 5000 known species. Most are marine, but around 150 species live in fresh water. Considered the simplest of the animals, the cells of sponges are organized into tissues, but the tissues are not organized into organs. Their bodies are a sort of loose aggregation of different kinds of cells. Sponges are characterized by a unique feeding system involving a system of pores and canals through which water passes. The four Classes of sponges are Calcarea (Calcispongiae), Hexactinellida (Hyalospongiae), Demospongiae, and Sclerospongiae (considered by many to be a subclass of Demospongiae).

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Hermit Crab Sponges
An article by Floyd Sandford about the sponges that are carried around by hermit crabs.
Introduction to Porifera
A good start on the biology of sponges, including phylogeny, life history, and ecology.
Nonindigenous Aquatic Species: Sponges
Species list from the USGS on the nonindigenous sponges found in US waters, with factsheets and collection details.
Phylum Porifera (Sponges)
Description of the sponges and their taxonomy, from the Animal Diversity Web.
Porifera Biology on the WWW
A central clearinghouse for sponge researchers, including a porifera listserver bulletin board and who's who in sponge research.
Porifera List
Links to a number of sponge-related sites.
Sponge City
Article by William Amos on sponges and their general biology, and the pistol shrimp and other creatures that live inside their chambers.
Sponges of Northern California Fouling Communities
Gallery of photographs of a number of species.

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