Studies on the identification, properties and function of chitin in sponges (Porifera), which are recognized as the first multicellular organisms on Earth, continue to be of fundamental scientific interest. The occurrence of chitin has so far been reported in 21 marine sponge species and only in two inhabiting fresh water. In this study, we present the discovery of α-chitin in the endemic demosponge Ochridaspongia rotunda, found in Lake Ohrid, which dates from the Tertiary. The presence of chitin in this species was confirmed using special staining, a chitinase test, FTIR, Raman and NEXAFS spectroscopy, and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). In contrast to the case of marine sponges, chitin in O. rotunda has been found only within its holdfast, suggesting a role of chitin in the attachment of the sponge to the hard substratum. Isolated fibrous matter strongly resemble the shape and size of the sponge holdfast with membrane-like structure.