Is it SpongeBob’s genome? Our consultant reports in

Earlier I wondered whether that the genome-of-the-day was possibly that of SpongeBob.  We decided to have a special consultant take a look into this question, and we now have a conclusion. J.E. Williams’ guest post here provides the current results of our investigation.  We have other lines of inquiry still underway, however, and will keep you posted if we learn more.

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Amphimedon queenslandica vs. SpongeBob

by J. E. Williams

The species Amphimedon queenslandica, a type of sponge, has recently been sequenced.  While quite a hit in the scientific world right now, it still cannot compete with the most famous sponge of all, SpongeBob Squarepants.  However, could SpongeBob and Amphimedon queenslandica be cousins, and if so, how distant apart are they from each other on the family tree?

Before we can tackle this question, we must first learn SpongeBob’s species.  It is unlikely that he is a Amphimedon queenslandica because:

  • They live in different areas: Amphimedon queenslandica is found in the Great Barrier Reef off the Eastern coast of Australia while SpongeBob lives in Bikini Bottom, a city beneath the Bikini Atoll. The atoll is in the Marshall Islands, just southwest of Hawaii.
  • They have different colors: SpongeBob is bright yellow, while Amphimedon queenslandica is, from what I’ve found, generally gray.

However, since we know SpongeBob’s location and color, it makes it a bit easier to guess his species.  One other thing about him: He is squishy like a bath sponge.  Bath sponges are squishy because they contain spongin, a protein made of modified collagen that gives sponges their flexibility.  The sponges that have spongin are in the class Demospongiae; therefore, it is probable that SpongeBob is a demosponge.   After that, it get easier.  We just need to look for a yellow demosponge that lives near the Marshall Islands.  The species closest to this description that I found is Stylissa massa. It:

  • lives in the islands near the Bikini Atoll
  • is a demosponge
  • is yellow

We may never know exactly what species SpongeBob is, but we can guess.

Credits/sources:

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/reefs/guamimg/porifera/Page1.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/

http://www.abolitionist.com/darwinian-life/nerves.html

http://www.starpulse.com/Television/SpongeBob_SquarePants/gallery/SpongeBob-SquarePants-p34/

One thought on “Is it SpongeBob’s genome? Our consultant reports in

  1. Pingback: Another day, another genome: SpongeBob! | The OpenHelix Blog

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