Multicellular-like compartmentalization of cytoplast in fossil larger foraminifera


C. Ferràndez-Cañadell [], Departament d'Estratigra. a i Paleontologia, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Martí Franquès s/n, E-08028-Barcelona, Spain;


Foraminifera are usually between 0.1 and 1 mm in size, thus falling within the range of the largest eukaryotic cells. However, some fossil and extant foraminiferal species reach diameters of more than 100 mm. One hypothesis of how these gigantic sizes could have been attained by these unicellular organisms is the temporary compartmentalization of cytoplasm into smaller volumes of effective metabolism, as reported for several recent species. Evidence of this phenomenon is shown in fossil genera of larger foraminifera belonging to five families of Cretaceous to Oligocene age. Alternative interpretations are discussed.