Amoeboid Protist: Body Builder from the Mediterranean Top 10 New Species of 2014Top 10 New Species of 2014
About the Amoeboid Protist
Name: Spiculosiphon oceana
How it made the Top 10: This one-celled organism is four to five centimeters high (1.5 to two inches), making it a giant in the world of single-celled creatures. This foram (part of a distinct group among the many amoeboids) from the Mediterranean Sea gathers pieces of silica spicules, which are actually sponge fragments, from its surroundings and uses them like so many Lego blocks to construct a shell. It ends up looking much like a carnivorous sponge as well as feeding like one, extending pseudopods (a protist's version of arms) outside the shell to feed on invertebrates that have become trapped in the spiny structures. This species was discovered in underwater caves 30 miles off the southeast coast of Spain. Interestingly, they are the same caves where carnivorous sponges were first discovered.
Etymology: The species name "oceana" is to honor the non-profit organization for ocean conservation OCEANA, which was responsible for the field collection of the type material.
Type material: Holotype and paratype at the National Museum of Natural Sciences of Madrid
Type locality: The "Seco de Palos" sea mountain, Western Mediterranean, Spain
Reference: Maldonado M, López-Acosta M, Sitjà C, Aguilar R, García S, Vacelet J. 2013. A giant foraminifer that converges to the feeding strategy of carnivorous sponges: Spiculosiphon oceana sp. nov. (Foraminifera, Astrorhizida). Zootaxa 3669: 571–584.