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An eminent marine biologist confirmed for me:
Sponges can indeed reconstruct themselves after being passed through a sieve. Sponges are amongst the most 'primitive' animals and and consist of a few different kinds of cells, some of which are very similar to some unicellular organisms found in the oceans (coanoflagellates). They are possibly [an exhibit] of how single celled organisms evolved into multicellular animals - the intermediate step being a loosely organised cooperative of separate single celled organisms. There cells are nothing like as dependent on each other as are the cells of a mammal and so can reform after being disrupted.
Don't quote me on this but I seem to remember that it has been proposed that this ability is useful in adverse conditions and sponge cells can wander about on their own and reconstitute when conditions are better. I'm not 100% sure about this - it may just be the ramblings of a delusional mind.
P.S. I don't know if sponges always reconstitute or if they do so only under certain conditions - so no mass sieving of sponges should be encouraged.
P.P.S. SOS - save our sponges
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