Foraminifera

Foraminifera (forams for short) are minute single-celled marine organisms that produce elaborate chambered shells. 

The hard shell may be formed by secretion of calcium carbonate (CaCo3), or accumulation of sediment grains from the surrounding environment.

Forams occur in a wide range of marine environments:

  • Benthic species are found living in or on the surface of ocean sediments.
  • Planktonic species live in the water column. They evolved from benthic species during the Mesozoic Period, and are now one of the most common ocean plankton.

Occurrence

Early Cambrian to present day. This group has living relatives.

Why study foraminifera?

Forams are extremely common in the fossil record. They are especially useful in the study of:

  • biostratigraphy
  • climatology
  • oceanography
  • archaeology

As with most micropalaeontology groups, their usefulness is down to their abundance, rate of evolution and preservation potential in sediments and rocks.

  • Nummullites gizehensis
    Foraminifera collections

    Foraminifera are the largest of our micropalaeontological collections, and the most visited. Learn more about these collections

  • Diatom
    Microfossil research

    Learn how we are using microfossils to date rocks, reconstruct past environments and study climate change. 

Find out more
Nummullites gizehensis
Foraminifera collections

Foraminifera are the largest of our microfossil collections, and the most visited. Find out about the key historical and research collections.