Comparison of Sollasella digitata Lendenfeld, 1888, up until the present assigned to its own family Sollasellidae Lendenfeld, 1887 in the order Hadromerida, and Raspailopsis cervicornis Burton, 1959, assigned to Raspailiidae Nardo, 1833 in the order Poecilosclerida, leads to the conclusion that both should be considered congeneric and are best assigned to a single genus Sollasella. This conclusion is based on examination of habit and skeletal characters of the type material of S. digitata and both type and freshly collected material of S. cervicornis. The conclusion is strengthened by the discovery of a new species, Sollasella moretonensis n.sp. collected in North Australia (primarily in the northeastern coast, but also an isolated record from the northwestern Australian coast), which possesses in addition to the characteristic surface pattern and skeletal structure, genuine echinating acanthostyles. The redefined genus Sollasella shares axial / extra-axial arrangement of the skeleton, special surface brushes of oxeas surrounding a single protruding style, and vestigial occurrence of acanthostyles with many Raspailia s.l. Nevertheless, it is retained as a separate genus, on account of its peculiar polygonal arrangement of surface pores. The distribution of the genus is disjunctive including both (southeast, northeast and northwest) Australian and Western Indian Ocean localities, but so far no intermediate records. Based on this morphological evidence, it is proposed – pending publication of corroborating molecular evidence to be presented in a follow-up study – to reassign Sollasella and the family Sollasellidae to the poecilosclerid family Raspailiidae.

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Contributions to Zoology

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Naturalis journals & series

van Soest, R., Hooper, J. N. A., Beglinger, E., & Erpenbeck, D. (2006). Affinities of the family Sollasellidae (Porifera, Demospongiae). I. Morphological evidence. Contributions to Zoology, 75, 3/4, 133–144.