Nannotax3 - ntax_cenozoic - Papposphaeraceae


Classification: ntax_cenozoic -> Coccolith families inc sed -> Papposphaeraceae
Sister taxa: Alisphaeraceae, Papposphaeraceae, Umbellosphaeraceae, narrow rimmed placoliths, Coccolith genera inc sed, U. heterococcoliths

Daughter taxa (time control age-window is: 0-800Ma)Granddaughter taxa
Coccolith distal rim serrated
Coccolith distal rim serrated - elements pentagonal;
Coccosphere polymorphic, processes on only some coccoliths. Calices with 2-fold symmetry
BCs without axial spine or node
Pappomonas borealis
Pappomonas flabellifera
Pappomonas garrisonii
Pappomonas weddellensis
Pappomonas vexillata
Pappomonas sp. type 1
Pappomonas sp. type 3
Pappomonas sp. type 4
Pappomonas sp. type 5
Pappomonas sp.

Coccolith distal rim serrated - elements pentagonal;
Coccosphere monomorphic, varimorphic, or dimorphic, calices with 4-fold (or, rarely, 3-fold) symmetry

Coccolith distal rim with separated elements
Coccosphere dimorphic - spines only on some coccoliths, calyx of four rods
Balaniger virgulosa

Coccolith distal rim weakly serrated - elements imbricate rods;
Coccosphere dimorphic - BCs with irregular tiles & calicate coccoliths with conical calices
Formonsella pyramidosa

Coccolith distal rim serrated - elements pentagonal;
?monomorphic, no process
Quaternariella obscura

Coccolith distal rim smooth; process variable
Monomorphic - body coccoliths are simple hoop-like coccoliths.
Pseudowigwamma scenozonion

Coccoliths hoop-shaped with axial cross; BCs with low windmill-like calyx; CFCs with large bladed process
Ventimolina stellata

Coccoliths hoop-shaped with rods rising from rim to form wigwam-like structure
Wigwamma annulifera
Wigwamma antarctica
Wigwamma arctica
Wigwamma armatura
Wigwamma triradiata
Wigwamma sp.

Coccolith distal rim smooth; long, hollow, quadrate, processes on some liths
Coccoliths distal rim smooth; with axial cross and spine;
Coccosphere dimorphic, some coccoliths with very long spines
Kataspinifera baumannii
Kataspinifera sp.

Coccoliths distal rim smooth, with curved quadrate process;
Coccospheres trimorphic
Picarola margalefii
Picarola sp.

Coccoliths with tall, narrow, quadrate spines; high rim with smooth distal rim.
Pocillithus spinulifer

Coccoliths narrow-rimmed muroliths; equatorial coccoliths with quadrate central process supported by transverse bar.
Coccosphere dimorphic, equatorial coccoliths distinctive, BCs simple muroliths
Vexillarius cancellifer
Vexillarius cereus
Vexillarius iaculifer
Vexillarius acerviphora
Vexillarius sp.


Citation: Papposphaeraceae Jordan & Young, 1990 emend Andruleit & Young 2010
Rank: Family
Synonyms: The group is sometimes informally refered to as "lightly-calcified coccolithophores".
Taxonomic discussion: The Papposphaeraceae as originally described only included the genera Papposphaera and Pappomonas. Subsequently Andruleit & Young (2010) extended the family to include the narrow-rimmed muroliths group of Young et al. (2003)- i.e. the genera Kataspinifera, Picarola, Vexilarius and Wigwamma.
Additional genera have since been described by Thomsen and co-workers - Formonsella, Porsilidia, and Ventimolina as well as the heterococcolith stage of Quaternariella
NB Some online databases suggest that the Papposphaeraceae should be considered a junior synonym of the Deflandriaceae (= Prediscosphaeraceae). As discussed by Jordan & Young (1990), this is an outdated suggestion made by Norris (1983) based on superficial similarities between Papposphaera and the Cretaceous genus Prediscosphaera.

Distinguishing features:
Parent taxon (Coccolith families inc sed): 2N: Various heterococcolith groups not obviously related to the well-defined orders
N: mostly unknown

This taxon: Narrow-rimmed muroliths, mostly with prominent central structures.

Farinacci & Howe catalog pages: Papposphaeraceae [no catalog entry yet]


As noted by Andruleit & Young (2010) five morphological features characterise this group
  1. The coccoliths have simple narrow murolith rims, i.e. they have a narrow sub-vertical outer wall without flanges. In Pappomonas and Papposphaera the rim has a serrated upper margin whilst it is smooth in the other genera.
  2. Rim structure. Typically the majority of the rim is formed of a single cycle of directly abutting elements with sub-vertical sutures. In addition a second cycle of elements occurs proximally, with one of these interposed elements between each of the larger elements.
  3. Central area structure. Most species show either an axial cross or an axial cross plus additional elements.
  4. Spine structure. The different genera have distinctly different central processes. In each case though these are hollow structures with quadrate cross-section.
  5. Size. All these genera are characterized by production of small coccospheres (c. 5 µm excluding spines) and minute coccoliths (coccolith length typically 1–2 µm)


Ecology & Biogeography

These occur predominantly in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the deep photic zone at lower latitudes. Chloroplasts have not been observed in these taxa and they have well-developed haptonemata, so they are thought to be heterotrophic (Thomsen & Ostergaard 2015).

Biology & life-cycles
Several species of Papposphaera and Pappomonas are known to have holococcolith stages from obsevations of combination coccospheres (e.g Thomsen et al. 1991). No species have been cultured succesfully.

Phylogenetic relations
No molecular genetic data is available for this group. However, the fact that they form both typical holococcoliths and typical heterococcoliths in alternate life-cycle stages, strongly suggests they fall within the clade of holococcolith producing coccolithophores (Young et al. 2005, Andruleit & Young 2010).

See also: Papposphaera HOL ;Trigonaspis ;Quaternariella HOL ;Balaniger HOL ;

Search data:
Lith size: 0.5->2µm;
The morphological data given here can be used on the advanced search page. See also these notes

Geological Range:
Last occurrence (top): Extant. Data source: Total of range of species in this database
First occurrence (base): at base of Thanetian Stage (0% up, 59.2Ma, in Thanetian stage). Data source: Total of range of species in this database

Plot of occurrence data:


Andruleit, H. & Young, J. R. (2010). Kataspinifera baumannii: a new genus and species of deep photic coccolithophores resembling the non-calcifying haptophyte Chrysochromulina. Journal of Micropalaeontology. 29: 135-147. gs V O

Dunkley Jones, T., Bown, P. R. & Pearson, P. (2009). Exceptionally well preserved upper Eocene to lower Oligocene calcareous nannofossils (Prymnesiophycidae) from the Pande Formation (Kilwa Group), Tanzania. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 7(4): 359-411. gs

Jordan, R. W. & Young, J. R. (1990). Proposed changes to the classification system of living Coccolithophorids. INA Newsletter. 12(1): 15-18. gs V O

Norris, R. E. (1983). The family position of Papposphaera Tangen and Pappomonas Manton & Oates (Prymnesiophyceae) with records from the Indian Ocean. Phycologia. 22(2): 161-169. gs

Thomsen, H. A. & Ostergaard, J. B. (2015a). Coccolithophorids in Polar Waters: Trigonaspis spp. revisited. Acta Protozoologica. 54: 85-96. gs V O

Thomsen, H. A., Ostergaard, J. B. & Hansen, L. E. (1991). Heteromorphic life histories in Arctic coccolithophorids (Prymnesiophyceae). Journal of Phycology. 27: 634-642. gs

Young, J. R., Geisen, M. & Probert, I. (2005). A review of selected aspects of coccolithophore biology with implications for palaeobiodiversity estimation. Micropaleontology. 51(4): 267-288. gs


Papposphaeraceae compiled by Jeremy R. Young, Paul R. Bown, Jacqueline A. Lees viewed: 6-12-2022

Taxon Search:
Advanced Search

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

Comments (0)

No comments yet on this page. Please do add comments if you spot any problems, or have information to share

Add Comment

* Required information
Captcha Image
Powered by Commentics