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April 6 Cafe – Fossil Foraminifera: What are they?

East Bay Science Cafe

Fossil Foraminifera: What are they? Primary informers about how our planet worked in the past.

Ivo Duijnstee

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
7:00-9 pm

Cafe Valparaiso
1403 Solano Ave.
Albany, California

By studying fossil foraminifera (unicellular marine organisms) and the composition of their tiny shells, geoscientists learn what our planet looked like in the past, 100s of millions of years ago . These “forams” can tell us what the temperature was like, how big Earth’s ice caps were, what type of mountain ranges eroded on land, if there were disturbances in our planet’s carbon cycle or ocean circulation, and many more important aspects of the Earth system. They arguably comprise our most important source of information on how our planet functioned in the past. Despite their importance, hardly anyone knows what foraminifera are. It’s time for a long overdue introduction!

Microscopic foraminifera Image: UC Museum of Paleontology

Microscopic foraminifera Image: UC Museum of Paleontology

Ivo Duijnstee is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in Integrative Biology at Cal. After receiving an MSc in plant ecology and a PhD at Utrecht University, he moved from land plants to marine foraminifera: unicellular seafloor dwellers with a rich fossil record – almost exclusively studied by paleontologists. Ivo investigates modern foram communities to address the ecological questions raised by his micropaleontology colleagues. Slowly, the study of fossil forams lured him deeper into our planet’s geological past. Now at Cal, Ivo combines his old love plant ecology with an interest in deep time – mainly working on the ecology of late Paleozoic plant communities (350–252 million yr ago).

Ivo Duijnstee

Ivo Duijnstee

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