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Pisera, Andrzej; Lukowiak, Magdalena; Fromont, Jane and Schuster, Astrid (2018): First record of the genus Vetulina Schmidt, 1879 (Porifera: Demospongiae: Sphaerocladina) from the Indian Ocean with the description of two new species: biogeographic and evolutionary significance. In: Marine Biodiversity, Vol. 48, No. 3: pp. 1529-1539

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Two new species of the genus Vetulina Schmidt, 1879 (Demospongiae, Vetulinidae, Sphaerocladina) were found off the coast of Western Australia (Indian Ocean). This genus is characterized by acrepid polyaxial desmas (sphaeroclones) equipped with arborescent branched outgrowths with spine-like processes and isometric styles as microscleres. Vetulina indica sp. nov. is an irregular, laterally folded ear-shaped cup with smooth surfaces, and V. rugosa sp. nov. is similar in shape but with a distinctive ribbed inner surface. Both species are very similar in spicule composition, but are distinguished by their gross morphology and pattern of canal openings on the surface. Despite the fact that we could not distinguish the two specimens based on molecular (CO1) data, we consider them as two separate species based on the morphological species concept. Our molecular phylogeny confirms again that Vetulina is sister to spongillids (freshwater sponges). This is the first occurrence of this genus outside the Caribbean Atlantic, and the first report from the Indian Ocean. Such a disjunct distribution is considered here to be a relict of a once widely distributed sponge population in the ancient Tethys Sea.

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