SILICEOUS SPONGE SPICULES FROM THE MIOCENE MEM MONIZ MARLS (PORTUGAL) AND THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL SIGNIFICANCE
The Miocene (middle Serravalian) Mem Moniz marls from Algarve (Portugal) contain a rich and well preserved assemblage of siliceous sponge spicules, which is described here for the first time. The assemblage indicates that the sponge fauna was dominated by Astrophorida, and in particular by Geodiidae. The presence of Eurylus sp. and probably Geodia sp. (both Astrophorida), Samus sp. (Spirophorida) and Alectona wallichii (Hadromerida) is also reported. Samus sp. and Alectona wallichii are reported from the fossil record for the first time. Additionally, the occurrence of lithistid demosponges (represented by Theonellidae and rhizomorinids), Hadromerida, Spirophorida and Hexactinellida is also shown. Ancorinidae, Pachastrellidae (and/or Cathropellidae), both Astrophorida, were also clearly recognized. Less certain is the occurrence, in the Mem Moniz marls, of Tethyidae (Hadromerida). Bathymetric reconstructions based on sponges are imprecise due to the fact that these organisms often have very wide bathymetric ranges. However, the studied sponge assemblage is clearly neither characteristic of very shallow nor very deep marine environments. The dominance of astrophorids and the presence of lithistids and hexactinellids suggest a depth of at least several tens to one hundred metres, or even more.