Foraminifera are marine protozoans that play a major role in the ecology of the oceans.

Keywords: test; wall‐structure; pseudopodia; foramina; symbiosis

Figure 1.

Soft part morphology of (a) an allogromiid, (b) a globigerinid.

Figure 2.

Wall structures. (a) Mosaic of calcite laths in the external layer of the porcelaneous species, Quinqueloculina seminulum. ×5250, by TEM. (b) Calcite laths in the external layer of Triloculina tricarinata. ×5250, by SEM. (c) Oblique hyaline structure in Elphidium exoticum. ×158, under crossed nicols. Note ‘granular’ appearance. (d) Radial hyaline structure in Elphidium selseyense. ×84, under crossed nicols. Note extinction cross in proloculus and shadows across other chambers. (e) Pores piercing sutured units of microcrystals in the radial hyaline species Ammonia batava. ×5250, by SEM after etching. (f) Stacks of rhomboid microcrystals in Ammonia batava, with pores seen in section. ×5250, by SEM after etching. (g) Aperture in Clavulina arctica showing abundant cement. ×788, by SEM. (h) Detail of breached dorsal side of Trochammina inflata showing minute agglutinated grains and tectin lining. ×366, by SEM. (i) Fine structure of the apertural lip in the agglutinating species Lagenammina arenulata showing size selection. ×550, by SEM. (j) Small, rectangular pores in the agglutinated species, Clavulina arctica. ×3675, by SEM. (k) Irregular grains laid flat‐on in the agglutinated species Trochammina intermedia? ×788, by SEM. (l) Detail of the apertural tooth in the agglutinating species Eggerelloides scaber, showing size selection. Note how the large grains in the wall are packed in a matrix of smaller grains. ×263, by SEM. Reproduced from Haynes plate 7. a) from Towe and Cifelli, 1967, Journal of Paleontology, 41(3). b) from Haake, 1971, Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 1(4). e) and f) from Bellemo, 1974, Bulletin of the Geological Institutions of the University of Uppsala, New Series 4.

Figure 3.

Foraminiferal faunas of the Northeast Atlantic. (a) Temperate latitude, ‘transitional province’, planktonic foraminifera, NE Atlantic. ×19–38 (actual size range between 0.25 and 0.50 mm maximum diameter), by SEM. 1, Orbulina universa; 2, Turborotalia pachyderma; 3, Globigerina bulloides; 4, Turborotalia inflata; 5, Globorotalia crassaformis; 6, Globigerinoides ruber; 7, Globorotalia truncatulinoides; 8, Biorbulina bilobata. (b) Some typical, temperate latitude, benthic foraminifera, NE Atlantic. ×15–75 (actual size range between 0.20 and 0.65 mm diameter and length), by SEM. 1, Oolina lineata; 2, Oolina hexagona; 3, Oolina williamsoni; 4, Rosalina anomala; 5, Trochammina inflata; 6, Pyrgo sp.; 7, Oolina borealis; 8, Elphidium magellanicum; 9, Bolivina sp.; 10, Bulimina elongata; 11, Cornuspira selseyense; 12, Spirophthalmidium acuta; 13, Bolivina variabilis; 14, Rosalina cf. bradyi; 15, Asterigerinata mamilla; 16, Elphidium williamsoni; 17, Turrispirillina sp.; 18, Rosalina neopolitana; 19, Rosalina sp.; 20, Bolivina striatula; 21, Oolina laevigata; 22, Haynesina depressula; 23, Trifarina angulosa fluens; 24, Trochammina astrifica; 25, ‘Stainforthiafusiformis’; 26, Clavulina arctica; 27, Pyrgo constricta; 28, Siphonina georgiana; 29, Oolina squamosa; 30, Lagena hibernica; 31, Patellina corrugata; 32, Quinqueloculina mediterraneana; 33, Gavelinopsis preageri; 34, Planorbulina distoma; 35, Rosalina williamsoni.



Haynes JR (1985) Foraminifera. London: Macmillan.

Lee JJ (1990) Phylum Granuloreticulosa (Foraminifera). In: Margulis L, Corliss JO, Melkonian M and Chapman DJ (eds) Handbook of Protoctista, pp. 524–548. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Loeblich A and Tappan H (1964) Protista 2. Sarcodina chiefly ‘Thecamoebians’ and Foraminiferida. In: Moore RC (ed.) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, part C, 2 vols. Boulder, CO: Geological Society and University of Kansas Press.

Loeblich A and Tappan H (1992) Present status of foraminiferal classification. In: Studies in Benthic Foraminifera, Benthos'90, pp. 93–102. Sendai, Japan: Tokai University Press.

Margulis L (1974) Five kingdom classification and the origin and evolution of cells. In: Dobzhansky T, Hecht MK and Steer WC (eds) Evolutionary Biology, vol. 7, pp. 45–78. New York: Plenum Press.

Orbigny d' ADD (1839) Voyage dans L'Amerique Meridional – Foraminiferes, vol. 5, pp. 1–86. Paris: Pitois‐Levrault.

Sleigh M (1989) Protozoa and Other Protists. London: Edward Arnold.

Further Reading

Haynes JR (1990) The classification of the Foraminifera – a review of the historical and philosophical perspectives. Palaeontology 33(3): 503–528.

Loeblich A and Tappan H (1988a) Foraminiferal Genera and their Classification. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Loeblich A and Tappan H (1988b) Foraminiferal evolution, diversification and extinction. Journal of Paleontology 62: 695–714.

Murray JW (1991) Ecology and Palaeoecology of Benthic Foraminifera. Harlow, UK: Longman.

Sen Gupta BK (ed.) (1999) Modern Foraminifera. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Haynes, John Roland(Apr 2001) Foraminifera. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001980]