Fossilised sponge spicule, SEM

Fossilised sponge spicule, SEM

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Credit: DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a fossilised marine sponge spicule from Oamaru, New Zealand. 3-D star shape. Sponge spicules are found in most sponges. They act as the structural support of sponges and deter predators. Spicules can be found in a wide range of symmetry types. They can be made of calcium carbonate, silica dioxide or spongin. Spicules are formed by sclerocytes, which are derived from archaeocytes. There are 4 main types of spicules: monaxons, triaxons, tetraxons and dendroclones. Magnification: x2,200 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.

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