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an order of Protozoa of the subclass Rhizopoda of the class Sarcodina. There are more than 1,500 species of foraminifers. The cytoplasmic body of most species is clad in a limestone shell (an external skeleton). A few species have chitinous shells or shells consisting of foreign particles (grains of sand, sponge spicules) cemented together by secretions of the cytoplasm. The unicameral or polycameral shells are sometimes branching. The variation in arrangement and shape of the chambers (in one or two rows, in a spiral) results in a diversity of skeletal shapes. The shell is usually 0.1–1.0 mm long but occasionally reaches 20 cm. Stomata connect the interior of the shell with the external environment; in many species there also are numerous pores in the wall of the shell. Through the stomata and the pores protrude slender branching and anastomosing pseudopodia, which serve to capture food and for locomotion.

All foraminifers are characterized by the alternation of haploid and diploid generations. The asexual diploid generation—the agamont—develops from the zygotes. The nucleus repeatedly divides as it grows and the organism becomes multinuclear. The two final nuclear divisions involve meiosis, after which the agamont decomposes into numerous (according to the number of nuclei) agametes. The agametes give rise to the haploid sexual generation—the gamont—whose growth and development are completed by the formation of gametes. Some foraminifers have motile flagellate isogametes, which enter the water and copulate, forming diploid zygotes. In plastogamic species the gamonts first join (most often in pairs) in syzygy and then form amoeboid or drop-shaped gametes. The diploid zygote gives rise to an agamont.

Foraminifers are marine, predominantly benthic organisms. Only two families—Globigerinidae and Globorotalidae—are planktonic. Foraminiferal shells form a substantial portion of oceanic slimes. Fossils are known from the Cambrian, although the organisms probably appeared in the Precambrian. In the first floraminifers the shell was organic and unicameral; species with multicameral limestone shells appeared later. Foraminifers reached the height of their development in the Carboniferous-Permian, with the appearance of the Fusulina and closely related forms whose shells formed substantial layers of limestones after the organisms died. These groups of foraminifers became extinct at the end of the Paleozoic. During the Mesozoic-Cenozoic new groups appeared, of which the best known are the Nummulites, which had a large, coin-shaped shell. The new groups played a role in rock formation. Paleontologists consider the Foraminifera a subclass of Protozoa; the subclass includes 13 orders, with many families and genera. Fossil foraminifers have great significance in Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic stratigraphy.


Dogel’,.V. A., Iu. I. Polianskii, and E. M. Kheisin. Obshchaia protozoologiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Osnovy paleontologii: Obshchaia chast’, Prosteishie. Moscow, 1959.


References in periodicals archive ?
The vessels' relationship to the Antarctic landscape is reinforced by the fact that the clay body Katherine made up for these pieces (a proportion of which came from the White Cliffs of Dover) contains fossil remnants of foraminifera and coccolithophors.
The Abakaliki shales of the Asu River Group, which are the oldest sediment in the study area, are totally devoid of benthonic and relatively low planktonic foraminifera (may be due to preservation problem or alteration).
Pearson and Burgess evaluate preservation and diagenesis in high-latitude, Eocene planktonic foraminifera from both hemispheres.
40 000 cal BC by synchronizing Greenland O-18/O-16 ice core records and North Atlantic foraminifera profiles: A comparison with U/Th coral data.
The major differences are a dearth of ooids and an increase in benthic foraminifera and bryozoans.
Since the spatial distribution of foraminifera is not uniform (Buzas 1968), four cores were taken at each locality in order to get an accurate representation of the taxonomic assemblages.
The most important and common foraminifera in the assemblage are: Alveolinacucumiformis, Rotalia sp.
During their lifetime, foraminifera incorporate certain elements and elemental isotopes depending on environmental conditions.
Some species of foraminifera that make their protective coverings (called "tests") out of calcium carbonate displayed no green fluorescence, showing that they had not survived.
The upper Olcese Sand is interpreted to represent shelf deposits that were deposited below normal wave base, signified by the presence of oscillations of storm-induced, wave-formed beds and concentrated shell lags based on abundant mollusks and foraminifera (Addicott 1970; Olson 1990).
This rising sea-level was reflected in a sharp reduction of pollen concentration and the continuous presence of mangrove pollen and diverse and abundant foraminifera and marine diatoms.
Indicators of marine influence include high sulphur coals bracketing coastal plain strata (Hacquebard and Donaldson 1969), agglutinated foraminifera (Wightman et al 1994), glaucony (Batson and Gibling 2002), and acritarchs (T.