Nannotax3 - ntax_cenozoic - Ellipsolithus


Classification: ntax_cenozoic -> Coccolith families inc sed -> Coccolith genera inc sed -> Ellipsolithus
Sister taxa: Aliculosphaera, Biantholithus, Camuralithus, Centumgemina, Craterolithus, Ellipsolithus, Gladiolithus, Ilselithina, Leesella, Luminocanthus, Pedinocyclus, Petasus

Daughter taxa (time control age-window is: 0-800Ma)
Ellipsolithus anadoluensis
Elliptical to oblong Ellipsolithus with well separated shields and high tube that is highly birefringent in XPL. Thin finely perforate central area plate is not visible in LM.
Ellipsolithus aubryae
Large, elliptical to oblong Ellipsolithus with wide central area spanned by a perforate plate with two rings of small perforations.
Ellipsolithus bollii
Elliptical Ellipsolithus with central area plate with small perforations.
Ellipsolithus distichus
Moderate to large, oblong Ellipsolithus with thin, finely perforate proximal central area plate and additional distal bars that form the birefringent net (8-16 large holes) that is clearly visible in LM.
Ellipsolithus lajollaensis
Elliptical to oblong Ellipsolithus with narrow central area spanned by plate with small perforations.
Ellipsolithus macellus
Moderate to large elliptical to oblong Ellipsolithus with conjunct, birefringent central area plate.
Ellipsolithus pumex
Medium-sized Ellipsolithus with relatively wide central area (width similar to the rim width) spanned by a finely perforate plate.
Ellipsolithus sp.
Specimens which cannot be assigned to any established species


Citation: Ellipsolithus Sullivan, 1964
Rank: Genus
Type species: Ellipsolithus macellus (Bramlette & Sullivan, 1961) Sullivan, 1964
Taxonomic discussion: Ellipsolithus coccoliths have a structure that is quite distinct from the principal Cenozoic placolith orders Coccolithales and Isochrysidales. The unicyclic distal shields are formed from numerous (>50) narrow elements joined along highly ‘frilled’ suture lines. The central area is spanned by perforate (E. anadoluensis) or imperforate (E. macellus) plates and may have additional bars (E. distichus, E. bollii, E. lajollaensis).
In cross-polars the shield and central structre are both strongly bierfringent with a near radial pseudo-extinction cross and in phase contrast the entire coccolith is pale/low contrast. So, the bulk of the coccolith must be formed of R-units. This also clearly separates the genus from all other Palaeogene placoliths. In the absence of detailed study it is not possible to determine if small V-units are present or not. [my interpretation - JRY 2022]

Distinguishing features:
Parent taxon (Coccolith genera inc sed): Heterococcolith genera which cannot be assigned to any family
This taxon: Elliptical to oblong placoliths with shields formed from numerous narrow elements and central areas spanned by plates that may be perforate.

Farinacci & Howe catalog pages: Ellipsolithus + *


Coccoliths medium-sized to very large (6-14 µm). All species similar size except E. aubryae (consistently >10 µm long)

Search data:
LITHS: placolith, elliptical, CA: ca_conjunct, plate, pores, CROSS-POLARS: rim-unicyclic, R-prominent,
Lith size: 6->14µm;
The morphological data given here can be used on the advanced search page. See also these notes

Geological Range:
Last occurrence (top): in upper part of Lutetian Stage (74% up, 42.9Ma, in Lutetian stage). Data source: Total of range of species in this database
First occurrence (base): in upper part of Danian Stage (63% up, 63.2Ma, in Danian stage). Data source: Total of range of species in this database

Plot of occurrence data:


Perch-Nielsen, K. (1985a). Cenozoic calcareous nannofossils. In, Bolli, H. M., Saunders, J. B. & Perch-Nielsen, K. (eds) Plankton Stratigraphy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 427-555. gs

Sullivan, F. R. (1964). Lower Tertiary nannoplankton from the California Coast Ranges. I. Paleocene. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences. 44: 163-227. gs O


Ellipsolithus compiled by Jeremy R. Young, Paul R. Bown, Jacqueline A. Lees viewed: 27-9-2022

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Short stable page link: Go to to create a permanent copy of this page - citation notes

Comments (2)

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Jeremy Young (Tonbridge, UK)

Hi Rui

The generic range is actually an automatic compilation from the specie ranges - and we have E. distichus with a slightly older (but less accurately calibrated) FO than E. macellus, so it is not a typo. .... but if you have a good source for the FO of E. distichus I'll certainly update it.

cheers Jeremy

Rui da Gama

In the site herein,

- the range of E. macellus is "First occurrence (base): at base of NP4 zone (0% up, 63.3Ma, in Danian stage). Data source: zonal marker (Perch-Nielsen 1985)"

- the range of the genus Ellipsolithus is "First occurrence (base): in upper part of Danian Stage (63% up,63.2Ma, in Danian stage). Data source: Total of range of species in this database"

maybe just a typo?

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