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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:
- Planktonic foraminifera, one of the most important types of plankton which can be found in the oceans of present time
- Benthic foraminifera, these mainly live on the bottom on and in the seabed
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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