Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 November 2005
The genus Desmoxya Hallmann, 1917, erected for south-east Australian Higginsia lunata Carter, 1885, was assigned to the synonymy of Higginsia Higgin, 1877 (Porifera: Halichondrida) by the latest revision of the taxonomy of the Porifera (Hooper & van Soest, 2002). The discovery of an undescribed species living in the bathyal reefs of the North Atlantic Rockall Bank with characters closely similar to H. lunata justifies the resurrection of Desmoxya. Accordingly the North Atlantic material is described as a new species in Desmoxya, viz. D. pelagiae sp. nov. The new species differs from its Australian congener in habit (smooth thin crusts vs massive with digitiform processes) and spicule sizes (smaller megascleres, twice-sized acanthoxeas and single vs two sizes of trichodragmas). A probable third member of this genus is Higginsia anfractuosa Hooper & Lévi, 1993, described from shallow-water reefs near New Caledonia. For reasons of priority the name of the family to which Higginsia and Desmoxya are assigned needs to be changed from Desmoxyidae Hallmann, 1917 to Heteroxyidae Dendy, 1905, as this senior synonym was overlooked when Heteroxya was assigned to the same family as Higginsia and Desmoxya in Hooper & van Soest, 2002.