, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 883–904 | Cite as

Isolated spicules of Demospongiae from Mt. Duello (Eocene, Lessini Mts., northern Italy): preservation, taxonomy, and depositional environment

  • Viviana Frisone
  • Andrzej Pisera
  • Eduardo Hajdu
  • Nereo Preto
  • Federico Zorzi
  • Roberto Zorzin
Original Article


Today, class Demospongiae is the largest of phylum Porifera but its fossil record, especially for “soft” demosponges, is rather scarce. This study documents exceptionally preserved isolated opaline spicules, unique for the Bartonian of Italy. Interpretation of morphological types of spicules by comparison with living species lead to their attribution to five orders (Astrophorida, Hadromerida, Haplosclerida, Poecilosclerida, “Lithistida”), seven families (Geodiidae, Placospongiidae, Tethyidae, Petrosiidae, Acarnidae, ?Corallistidae, Theonellidae) and five genera (Geodia, Erylus, Placospongia, Chondrilla, Petrosia,?Zyzzya). All the described genera are first reported from the Eocene of Europe. This study expands the geographical range of these taxa and fills a chronological gap in their fossil record. The spicules are often fragmented and bear signs of corrosion. They show two types of preservation: glassy and translucent. X-ray powder diffraction analysis confirms that both types are opal-CT with probable presence of original opal-A. Despite this, using a scanning electron microscope the texture of freshly broken surfaces is different. Milky spicules show a porous structure with incipient lepispheres. This feature, together with surface corrosion and the constant presence of the zeolite heulandite/clinoptilolite, point to a certain degree of diagenetic transformation. Macro and micro facies analysis define the sedimentary environment as a rocky shore succession, deepening upward within the photic zone. The spicule-rich sandy grainstone represents the deepest facies and was deposited in a middle-outer carbonate ramp environment, in part in a fairly high energy environment close to storm wave base.


Spicules Demospongiae Eocene Bartonian Mt. Duello Opal 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viviana Frisone
    • 1
    • 4
  • Andrzej Pisera
    • 2
  • Eduardo Hajdu
    • 3
  • Nereo Preto
    • 4
  • Federico Zorzi
    • 4
  • Roberto Zorzin
    • 5
  1. 1.Museo di Archeologia e Scienze Naturali “G. Zannato”Montecchio MaggioreItaly
  2. 2.Institute of PaleobiologyPolish Academy of ScienceWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Museu Nacional, Departamento de InvertebradosUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Dipartimento di GeoscienzeUniversità degli Studi di PadovaPaduaItaly
  5. 5.Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di VeronaVeronaItaly

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