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Keywords:

  • agglutinated Foraminifera;
  • allogromiid;
  • deep-sea trench;
  • hadal;
  • inner organic lining;
  • KAIKO;
  • organic cement;
  • wall structure

We describe four new species and a new genus of very small (< 500 µm) Foraminifera from the Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the world's oceans (10 896 m water depth). All have transparent, mainly organic test walls that incorporate some minute agglutinated mineral particles of various shapes and compositions. Nodellum aculeata sp. nov. has an elongate proloculus with a pointed proximal end followed by a long, tubular section. The genus Resigella is represented by two species: in R. laevis sp. nov., the test comprises 3–4 elongate, oval to cylindrical chambers while R. bilocularis sp. nov. has an oval proloculus followed by a second, larger globular chamber. The fourth species, Conicotheca nigrans gen. et sp. nov., is characterized by a tiny, elongate, conical test filled with dark stercomata. Except in C. nigrans, the test wall has a brownish tinge; energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) suggests the presence of organically bound Fe in all species including C. nigrans. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) combined with EDS reveals distinctive wall structures. In N. aculeata, the proloculus is strewn with tiny (< 0.7 µm), elongate grains. In this species and in R. laevis, the test surface (except for the proloculus) is covered with a carpet of minute (∼0.1 µm) finger-like projections, rather similar to the organic cement of agglutinated Foraminifera. In R. bilocularis, the larger second chamber often has a partial veneer of fine mineral grains of varying composition, as well as organic areas consisting of meshed strands. SEM images of these three species reveal flat, plate-like features that we interpret as clay particles. In C. nigrans, the wall is relatively featureless except where the surface is raised into hummocky mounds and scale-like features, again probably clay particles. We suggest that these species represent a distinctive group of ‘agglutinated’ Foraminifera in which the test is predominately organic. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 153, 399–423.