Newly emerging molecular phylogenetic hypotheses involving the sponge Order Haplosclerida (Class Demospongiae) are far removed from traditional views on their classification using morphology. In the new grouping of marine haplosclerid taxa by molecular data all members of one highly supported clade were found to have three large indels in the 18S rRNA gene. These indels were not found in this gene in other marine haplosclerids or in any other demosponges analysed. These indels were found in the variable V4 and V7 region of the gene. had high GC contents and formed stable double stranded helices in the 18S rRNA secondary structure. These indels are very important synapomorphies, provide high support for an alternative taxonomic scheme and could help resolve the phylogeny of this order in conjunction with other phylogenetically informative characters. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.