Nannotax3 - ntax_cenozoic - Ericiolus Nannotax3 - ntax_cenozoic - Ericiolus


Classification: ntax_cenozoic -> Nannolith families inc sed -> Nannolith genera inc sed -> Ericiolus
Sister taxa: Ericiolus, Florisphaera, Pileolosphaera ⟩⟨ Goniolithus, Nannoturba, Minylitha, Unidentified nannoliths

Thje speices are aranged here in three groups of increasing morphological complexity (time control age-window is: 0-800Ma)
three simple rays, no central spine (formerly Mercedisia)
Ericiolus aspiphorus
Nannoliths sub-triangular, with slightly concave sides; distal side with sutural ribs and central nodule, ca 0.5µm across
Ericiolus multistellatus
Nannoliths Y-shaped, rays tapering, ca 0.5µm across
Ericiolus pusillus
Nannoliths like M multistellata but smaller (<0.3µm) and with central pore
three simple rays and central spine
Ericiolus frigidus
All four spikes of tetrad of similar length (0.2-0.3 µm) and angles between all four are equal.
Ericiolus spiculiger
Tetrads consists of three almost coplanar spikes, 0.1-0.2 µm long, forming proximal surface and one longer (0.3-0.4 µm) distally directed spike. Underlain by oval organic baseplate with concentric striations.
three bifurcate rays and central process
Ericiolus bendifii
rays bifurcate for most of length, process is spine with terminal knob
Ericiolus mattioliae
rays only bifurcate at tips, process formed of laths rising from rays
Ericiolus sheldoniae
rays bifurcate for most of length, process formed of laths rising from rays
Ericiolus sp.
Specimens which cannot be assigned to established species


Citation: Ericiolus Thomsen in Thomsen et al., 1995
taxonomic rank: Genus
Type species: Ericiolus spiculiger Thomsen in Thomsen et al., 1995
Taxonomic discussion: Archontikis et al. (2023) described three new species from low latitude sub-surface waters. They also recombined the species previously placed in Mercedesia into Ericiolus. This leaves the genus as a coherent group of very small triradiate nannoliths, with or without a central process. Three groups of species can, however, be recognised within the genus corresponding to (1) the previously described Ericiolus species, (2) the  species previousl placed in Mercedesia and (3) the new low-latitude species.  
Etymology: Ericiolus means  “little hedgehog”.

Distinguishing features:
Parent taxon (Nannolith genera inc sed): Three apparently unique genera, not-included in described families
This taxon: Nannoliths, miniscule (<1 µm), formed of 3 nearly co-planar rays, often with a distal process. Cells monomorphic, often saddle-shaped, with long flagella and haptonema.

Farinacci & Howe catalog pages: Ericiolus * , Mercedesia *


Liths show some similarity to the more skeletal Polycrater species.

Cells 3-4 µm across

Ecology & Biogeography

Occurs in the surface waters at high latitudes and in mid to deep photic zone at low latitudes. Rare.

Biology & life-cycles
No data available

Phylogenetic relations
Archontikis etal. iscuss possible relations to [h[Pileolosphaera[eh] and Discoaster.

Search data:
LITHS: nannolith-radiate, star-shaped, triangular, CA: process,
CSPH: equant, monomorphic,
Lith size: 0.2->1.2µm; Segments: 3->3; Coccosphere size: 2->6µm; Liths per sphere: 30->80
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 ranges of the species in this database
First occurrence (base): within No known fossil record modern (0.00-0.00Ma, base in "Holocene" stage). Data source: Total of ranges of species in this database

Plot of occurrence data:


Archontikis, O. A., Millán, J. G., Winter, A. & Young, J. R. (2023a). Taxonomic re-evaluation of Ericiolus and Mercedesia (Prymnesiophyceae) and description of three new species. Phycologia. 62(2): 179-193. gs

Thomsen, H. A., De Place Bjorn, B., Højlund, L., Olesen, J. & Pedersen, J. B. (1995). Ericiolus, gen. nov. (Prymnesiophyceae), a new coccolithophorid genus from polar and temperate waters. European Journal of Phycology. 30(29-34): -. gs


Ericiolus compiled by Jeremy R. Young, Paul R. Bown, Jacqueline A. Lees viewed: 22-2-2024

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

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