Id of objects inside foraminifera

James Mahaffy mahaffy at
Tue Oct 19 10:03:21 EST 1999

Kurt Nielsen asked me to pass along this inquiry for him. He passed it on to paleonet but did not get any responses from them.  I told him that I would pass it along to PSA if he got no id from the 

Please respond to Kurt at address below or at the cc. 


  Dear Paleo-netters!

  I hope that some of you can help me out with this little mystery. During a
  study of a Pleistocene Orbulina universa (planktonic foraminifera), the
  test was opened and investigated in an SEM. On the inside of the test of O.
  universa some unknown elements were observed:

  Three out of a total of ten specimens from the same sample contained these
  "organic" elements on the inside of the test. Due to the scarcity of the
  material I have been unwilling to sacrifice any of the specimens to
  determine whether these elements are of organic or calcitic nature. The two
  pictures attached to this message show the elements in two different O.
  universa. The elements are roughly 1-2 microns across and at least three
  different forms seem to occur. In two of the specimens the elements are
  randomly distributed on the inside of the test wall. In the third some of
  these elements seem to grow around an enlarged pore in the test wall as
  well as being randomly distributed. Various medical experts have assured me
  that these elements are not blood cells or any  other secretions from a
  human being. Different algae have been suggested by other experts, however
  mostly without a name. If any of you have any suggestins as to the
  identity of these elements, it would be greatly appreciated.

  Best wishes to you all.

  Kurt Nielsen
  Geological Institute, University of Copenhagen
  ÿster Voldgade 10
  DK-1350 Copenhagen K
  E-mail nk061259 at

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