Coordinator:  Dr. Ramadan Abu-Zied

Geology Dept., Mansoura University

Room No: 1083G




Micropaleontology is concerned with microfossils and nanofossils (the latter being smaller than 50 m), the study of which must, of necessity, be carried out using the light or electron microscope. To achieve this course, the microfossils* must be studied in terms of morphology, structure, chemical and mineralogical composition and taxonomy to discover their origin and systematic affinities. Application of these microfossils in the fields of oil-exploration, biostratigraphy, palaeo-biology and paleoclimatology is essential. This course emphasizes, in particular, on the microfossils that lived in or under the sea water. Thus, their interaction with the present-day physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the ocean water will be also addressed.


*Microfossils are the remains of unicellular, multicellular micro-organisms and the dissociated  

elements and skeletal fragments of macro-organisms. They consist of these  types: Foraminifera, Ostracods, Coccolithophora, Diatoms, Radiolaria and Dinoflagellates.



Benthic Foraminifera

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Planktonic Foraminifera

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   (Emiliania huxleyi)


(Arachnoidiscus sp.)


(Lamprocyclas sp.)


(Cerodinium sp.)




Duration of the course:

From 1st of February to 1st of May: One lecture (two hours) and one practical lab (two hours) per a week.


Course Topics:

Time schedule Topic Lecture notes

Week 1

Welcoming and introduction about the microfossils groups.


Week 2

Foraminifera1 ( the cell, life style of benthic and planktonic, food, symbiosis, life cycle, wall structure and composition, test morphology and general taxonomy).


Week 3

Foraminifera 2 (environmental variables affecting benthic foraminifera and their bathymetric distribution, modern habitats of benthic foraminifera, the environmental variables affecting planktonic foraminifera and their modern distribution in the ocean water).


Week 4

Foraminiferal general history and its application in the stratigraphy and its stable oxygen and carbon isotopes.


Week 5

Ostracods (morphology and composition of the carapace, orientation, ontogeny and articulation)


Week 6

Ostracods (distribution and ecology, ecological variables, general classification and application.


Week 7

Nannoplankton (coccoliths): what are coccoliths?, living coccoliths and their ecology, classification, coccoliths and dissolution, general history and application in stratigraphy and paleoclimatology.


Week 8

Diatom1: living diatom, cell contents of living diatom, structure and morphological characteristics, diatom symmetry, ornamentation and taxonomy.


Week 9

Diatom2: growth and reproduction, distribution and ecology, dissolution, geologic record and evolution, and applications.


Week 10

Radiolaria: living radiolaria, distribution and ecology, sedimentation and dissolution, classification, and geologic record and applications.


Week 11

Dinoflagellates: Living dinoflagellate and its life history, Ecology, classification, dinoflagellate stratigraphic position and applications.


Week 12

Practical and oral exams




  • Haq, B.U and Boersma, A., 1978. Introduction to Marine Micropaleontology, Elsevier, NY.

  • Brasier, M.d., (1980). Microfossils. George Allen and Unwin LTD, London, 193 pp.

  • Hemleben, C., Spindler, M., and Anderson, O. R., 1989. Modern Planktonic Foraminifera. Springer-Verlag, New York, 363 pp.

  • Sen Gupta, B.K., (1999). Modern Foraminifera. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 371 pp.

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