MICROPALEONTOLOGY

- the study of microsocopic fossils. The table below lists some common non- palynomorph microfossils, whose fossils remains are composed of primarily of carbonate, silicate or phosphate. Note that Foraminifera have a calcarous test with a chitenous inner lining.

Microfossil Classification Range Skeletal Mineralogy Rock Type
Charophytes Sessil freshwater green algae Devonian to Recent Calcium Carbonate Chara ooze
Chrysophytes Filamentous freshwater green algae Cretaceous to Recent Silicate N/A
Coccoliths Single-celled planktonic
marine autotroph
Jurassic to Recent Calcium Carbonate Chalk, Calcareous oozes
Conodonts - Scolecodonts Teeth, jaws, and associated features of polychaet annelid worms. Cambrian to Triassic Calcium Phosphate N/A
Diatoms Single-celled planktic and benthic freshwater & marine autotroph Cretaceous to Recent Silica Diatomites
Foraminifera Single-celled marine heterotroph Ordovician to Recent Calcium Carbonate Calcareous Oozes
Ostracoda Freshwater and marine crustacean Ordovician to Recent Chitinous or Calcareous N/A
Radiolarians Single-celled marine heterotroph Ordovician to Recent Silica Chert
thanks to Jessica Clark-Chant and the British Micropaleontological Society - Pollen Group

MACROFOSSILS VS. MICROFOSSILS

  MICROFOSSIL MACROFOSSIL
(Biopolymers)
Sporopollenin
Lignin
Algal Coenobia and Spores
Charcoal
Cuticle
Fungal Spores
Traceophyte Spores
Pollen
Leaves
Fruits
Seeds
Wood
Chitin
Pseudochitin
Amoeba Tests
Bryozoan Statoblasts
Cladocerans
Dinoflagellates
Dipterans
Orobatid Mites
Beetles
Crayfish
Scorpions
Siliceous Chrysophytes
Diatoms
Phytoliths
Radiolarians
Sponge Spicules
Replacement Fossils
(e.g., petrified wood)
Calcareous Charophytes
Coccoliths
Foraminifera
Ostracods
Chara
Mollusks
Foraminifera

Owen Davis last updated 4/03