Which early Palaeozoic acritarchs might be dinoflagellate cysts?

gerard.versteegh [ at ] awi.de


Small, organic-walled microfossils were usually attributed to the general term ‘hystrichospheres’ until the early 1960’s. After the discovery that many of these ‘hystrichospheres’ displayed morphological characteristics that are specific for dinoflagellates namely having a cingulum, a sulcus, an operculum and a para-tabulation, Evitt (1963) created the new term ‘acritarchs’ to classify all the remaining forms of unknown biological affinity and separate these from dinocysts. The acritarchs therefore include various kinds of organisms that have been affiliated to animal remains, fossil spores of various groups, and to several classes of (green) algae, including the prasinophycean, zygnematophycean or chlorophycean groups, for example. Although of unknown biological affinities by definition, many Palaeozoic acritarchs, in particular taxa from the Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian, have been compared morphologically to dinoflagellates. Such morphotypes have therefore been considered to be the resting cysts of phytoplankton since many years. The diversity of (planktonic) dinocyst-like taxa strongly increases in the late Cambrian, triggering probably the onset of the ‘Ordovician plankton revolution.’ These acritarchs are virtually impossible to differentiate from dinocysts, showing often the same process morphology (see Kröck et al., this conference). Furthermore, their palaeoecological distribution patterns, following inshore-offshore trends, is identical to those of dinoflagellates. Also, their biogeographical distribution is comparable to that of modern dinoflagellate taxa. We consider that some Palaeozoic acritarchs might therefore have been produced by dinoflagellate-like species, although they do not display all morphological criteria necessary to be recognized as a dinoflagellate cyst.

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Conference (Talk)
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11th International Conference on Modern and Fossil Dinoflagellates, 17 Jul 2017 - 21 Jul 2017, Bordeaux.
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Servais, T. , Kroeck, D. M. , Mertens, K. N. , Versteegh, G. and Zonneveld, K. A. F. (2017): Which early Palaeozoic acritarchs might be dinoflagellate cysts? , 11th International Conference on Modern and Fossil Dinoflagellates, Bordeaux, 17 July 2017 - 21 July 2017 .

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