Sphenolithus abies

Ancestry: Coccolithophores -> Discoasterales -> Sphenolithaceae -> Sphenolithus -> S. moriformis group -> Sphenolithus abies
Sister taxa: S. abies, S. acervus, S. capricornutus, S. cometa, S. conicus, S. dissimilis, S. multispinatus, S. neoabies, S. procerus, S. tintinnabulum, S. umbrellus, S. moriformis, S. primus,

Short diagnosis: Moderately elevated sphenolith with cuspate outline and with extinction line going down long axis of spine.


Citation: Sphenolithus abies Deflandre in Deflandre and Fert, 1954
Rank: Species
Notes & discussion: Similar to S. moriformis but more elevated and with cuspate outline. Form becomes less distinct with poor preservation. The classic S. abies form is distinctive and does not usually occur in the Early Miocene, but consistent separation from S. moriformis is difficult. In practice most workers record S. moriformis in the Palaeogene and Early Miocene and S. abies in the Middle Miocene to Pliocene.

Farinacci & Howe catalog pages: Sphenolithus abies * Sphenolithus grandis * Sphenolithus quadrispinatus * Sphenolithus verensis *

Short diagnosis: Moderately elevated sphenolith with cuspate outline and with extinction line going down long axis of spine.

Geological Range:
Notes: The top is the final extinction of Sphenolithus and is a very useful biostratigrphic datum. The base is gradational transition from S. moriformis and of no biostratigraphic use.
Last occurrence (top): in lower part of NN16 zone (20% up, 3.5Ma, in Gelasian stage). Data source: Raffi et al. 2006, position within NN6 estimated from their fig. 3
First occurrence (base): within NN7 zone (10.89-11.90Ma, base in Serravallian stage). Data source: Young 1998

Plot of occurrence data:


Backman, J., (1978). Late Miocene - Early Pliocene nannofossil biochronology and biogeography in the Vera Basin, SE Spain. Stockholm Contributions in Geology, 32: 93-114.

Bukry, D. & Bramlette, M.N., (1969). Some new and stratigraphically useful calcareous nannofossils of the Cenozoic. Tulane Studies in Geology, 7: 131-142.

Deflandre, G. & Fert, C., (1954). Observations sur les coccolithophoridés actuels et fossiles en microscopie ordinaire et électronique. Annales de Paléontologie, 40: 115-176.

Haq, B.U. & Berggren, W.A., (1978). Late Neogene calcareous plankton biochronology of the Rio Grande Rise (South Atlantic Ocean). Journal of Paleontology, 52: 1167-1194.

Perch-Nielsen, K., (1980). New Tertiary calcareous nannofossils from the South Atlantic. Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae, 73(1): 1-7.

Young, J.R., (1998). Neogene. In: Bown, P.R. (Editor), Calcareous Nannofossil Biostratigraphy. British Micropalaeontological Society Publications Series. Chapman & Hall, London, pp. 225-265.

Nannotax3 - Coccolithophores - Sphenolithus abies by: Jeremy R. Young, Paul R. Bown, Jacqueline A. Lees viewed: 28-4-2017

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Mike Styzen (Noble Energy, US)
Sphenolithus verensis: I agree that S. verensis is probably a variant of S. abies (especially considering the very broad original description of S. abies!). The extinction of S. verensis can be a useful marker. The diagnosis for S. verensis is a little more complex than what is stated above. In the forms I refer to S. verensis the apical spine is extinct when paralell to the crossed nicols. leaving a dark V shape where the spine is. The basal spines are usually somewhat longer in well preserved specimens and sometimes they appear to be at a more oblique angle to the long axis.
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