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The Foraminifera, also called “hole bearers" or forams,  are single celled organisms with an external (chambered) shell or exoskeleton of chalk. The phylum Foraminifera used to be classified within the kingdom Protists. Due to taxonomic reasons this kingdom no longer exists and the Foraminifera belong to the supergroup Rhizaria. Foraminifera can be divided into 2 groups:

Some of the foraminifera form a endosymbiotic relation with other single cellular organisms. There a big forms, visible for the naked eye and small forms, floating as plankton in the ocean. The chambers from which the exoskeleton is made up, often are arranged in a spiral form and are connected through a network of pores.. Some big forms even look similar to ammonites, although this resemblance is just superficial.

Fossil foraminifera are used in geological studies to reconstruct the climate and environment from which the foraminifera date. Fossil records of  foraminifera date back as far as the Cambrian Period and they still exist in the present days. Because of their fast evolution they are also often used as index fossils.

Foraminifers in Croatia. Photo: Herman Zevenberg


Photos or locations for Foraminifera on this site


Thanks to Johan Vellekoop.

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