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live foraminiferan in lab

Tiny Disrupter

A plump foramiferan, or foram, sends out thread-like extensions to explore its surroundings and capture prey. Forams are single-celled organisms that live on or in the seafloor, where their activities disrupt microscopic layers of sediment. WHOI researchers Joan Bernhard, Virginia Edgcomb, and Anna McIntyre-Wressnig recently found that certain kinds of forams might have played a role in the worldwide decline, a billion years ago, of finely layered rock formations called stromatolites and the rise of clumpy formations called thrombolites. (Photo by Joan Bernhard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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