Abstract

Abundant hexactinellid and lithistid sponges occur in Ludlow (Silurian) platform slope strata of the Cape Phillips Formation, Canadian Arctic Islands. The following are new: in the Anthaspidellidae Miller, 1889, rhodesispongia simplex n.gen and sp., Climacospongia snowblindella n.sp., and Climacospongia undulata n.sp.; in the Sphaerocladina Schrammen, 1910, Caryospongia tuberosa n.sp.; in the Hexactinellida Schmidt, 1870 Malumispongium? cornwallisi n.sp., of the monospecific superfamily Malumispongium Rigby, 1967. Other previously described sponges recognized in the study assemblage include Hindia sphaeroidalis Duncan, 1879 and Caryospongia juglans Rauff, 1894. These occur in association with abundant Archaeoscyphia sp. in thin, laterally extensive lithistid sponge biostromes which throve on platform slope sediments during the Late Silurian. Based on the dominant dendroclone forms in the skeletons of these and other genera, Anthaspidellidae can be divided informally into two groups: (i) the polyclonids, possessing complex skeletons built of variable dendroclones types, including I-, X-, and Y-shape dendroclones, and accessory spicules, including rhizoclones, chiastoclones, and monactines; and (ii) the monoclonids, possessing simpler parenchymal canal systems and skeletons constructed mainly of I-shaped (amphiarborescent) dendroclones and lacking accessory spicules. The classification, based chiefly on skeletal architecture, suggests two main evolutionary trends in the family. The monoclonids generally maintained structural simplicity, inherited from the probable ancestral monactinellid, whereas the polyclonids evolved a varied and complex skeletal architecture that was more successful.

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