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foram shells

Fascinating Foraminifera

Seafloor sediments contain millions of tiny shells of foraminifera—single-celled ocean organisms that lived, died, and sank to the ocean bottom over the ages. The fossil shells (seen here through a dissecting microscope) contain chemical clues to ocean temperature and rainfall when and where when the organisms lived. Paleoceanographer Delia Oppo, geologist Liviu Giosan, and their students have used fossils like these to discern patterns of Indian monsoons and ocean oscillations over several thousand years, shedding light on past changes in climate and how they affected human cultures. This picture is featured in the 2013 WHOI wall calendar, which is available from the Exhibit Center in Woods Hole. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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