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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
30gms of each sample was processed for foraminiferans, and the indurated samples were first disaggregated and soaked with kerosene for up to 4 hours and in water with detergent overnight.
It is further confirmed by the foraminiferan species Rugoglobigerina rugosa, Globotruncanella petaloidea, Bolivina decurrens, and B.
During analysis of foraminiferans in Late Wisconsinan to modern sediments at locations on eastern Canada's continental shelf, sharp, shorted-lived increases in the percent occurrence of two species groups, Cassidulina-Islandiella and Stainforthia, termed a DFA sequence, appeared consistently in the early post-glacial record.
Foraminiferans, harpacticoids, ostracods, and macroalgal debris represented food items that potentially could be browsed within shelters.
Freshwater foraminiferans from Lake Geneva: past and present.
(2013) documents a diminishing of the negative effects of ocean acidification with moderate increases in nutrient in the foraminiferan Marginopora rossi.
(2005) for planktonic foraminiferans, and by Kerswell (2006) for benthic marine algae: lower diversity at equatorial latitudes than at mid-latitudes in both southern and northern hemispheres, and lowest diversity of all at polar latitudes.
Caudofoveates generally burrow in muddy bottom and feed mostly on foraminiferans (Salvini-Plawen, 1981, 1988).
They also contained pelagic foraminiferans, phaeodarians, silicoflagellates, dinoflagellates, as well as some unidentified soft material.
Slides at the time of sampling typically displayed an early successional marine community comprising a biofilm of bacteria and algae, as well as a rich assembly of epifauna, including juvenile sponges, foraminiferans, tubeworms, hydrozoans, copepods, snails, bryozoans, and ascidians.
Symbiotic benthic foraminiferans and molluscs as well as bryozoans and echinoderms are also regarded as important reef calcifiers (Barnes and Chalker, 1990; Done et al., 1996; Langer et al., 1997; Gattuso et al., 1999; Yamano et al., 2000).