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Proceedings Paper

Acritarchs: proterozoic and paleozoic enigmatic organic-walled microfossils
Author(s): Reed Wicander
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Paper Abstract

Acritarchs are organic-walled cysts of unicellular protists that cannot be assigned to any known group of organisms. Most acritarchs are probably the resting cysts of marine eukaryotic phytoplankton. Some acritarchs are thought to be dinoflagellate cysts but lack the requisite morphology to make a positive attribution. Others, however, can be confidently assigned to the chlorophytes (green algae), but for convenience, are still commonly included in the acritarchs. Thus, acritarchs are a heterogeneous, polyphyletic collection of organic-walled microfossils of unknown or uncertain origin. Acritarchs vary in size from < 10 microns to more than 1 mm, but the majority of species range from 15 to 80 microns. Because of their small size, abundance and diversity, as well as widespread distribution, acritarchs are very useful in biostratigraphic correlation, as well as paleobiogeographic and paleoenvironmental studies. Acritarchs are found throughout the geologic column but were most common during the Late Proterozoic and Paleozoic. Because they represent the fossil record of the base of the marine food chain during the Proterozoic and Paleozoic, acritarchs played an important role in the evolution of the global marine ecosystem.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 February 2002
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 4495, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV, (5 February 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.454771
Show Author Affiliations
Reed Wicander, Central Michigan Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4495:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Roland R. Paepe; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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