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Discovery on the Mudflats

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

by Monaca Noble

An orange sponge grows from a bryolith ball.

An orange sponge made this bryolith its home.

What are these rocks doing on the mudflat? That was the question a group of researchers in San Francisco’s South Bay asked in 2005. They were engaged in a native oyster restoration project when they stumbled upon some rather large rocks. They kicked one to the surface and recognized it as a bryozoan colony. SERC researcher Chela Zabin realized that this free-living bryozoan colony was very unusual; normally they grow on hard surfaces. Zabin and Joshua Mackie, of San Jose State University, identified the organism as Schizoporella errata, a type of calcified encrusting bryozoan that usually grows on pilings, boat hulls and docks. 
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