Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments

2009 Edition
| Editors: Vivien Gornitz


  • Adolfo Molina-Cruz
  • Kjell R. Bjørklund
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4411-3_201

Radiolarians are marine protozoa with a geological record ranging from Precambrian to Present. Radiolarians are exclusively marine and are found in all the oceans, in all temperature zones and at all depths. They are also neritic in their distribution, being found in Norwegian fjords, in the plankton (9,000 specimens m–3), more abundantly in the tropics (18,000 specimens m–3), and rarely in the polar oceans. The highest numbers of Radiolaria are found in the upper 50–200 m of the water column. Those radiolarians possessing a skeleton may contribute significantly to the deep sea eupelagic sediments, the so-called radiolarian ooze, which are found deposited in the central parts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Evolution of this group has resulted in a high diversity of both extinct and extant species. Their opal skeleton is characteristic and in many cases is radial, from which the name Radiolaria is derived. Some, however, possess a bilateral skeleton, whilst others have no skeleton at...
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Adolfo Molina-Cruz
  • Kjell R. Bjørklund

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