Palynomorph

Palynomorph

Palynomorph is the geological term used to describe a particle of a size between five and 500 micrometres, found in rock deposits (sedimentary rocks) and composed of organic material such as chitin, pseudochitin and sporopollenin. The word is derived from Greek, meaning "strewn or sprinkled forms." Palynology is the study of palynomorph fossils and can be considered a subdiscipline of micropaleontology or paleobotany. Expressed more simply, palynology is the study of organic microfossils.

Palynomorphs form a geological record of importance in determining the type of prehistoric life that existed at the time the sedimentary formation was laid down. As a result, these microfossils give important clues to the prevailing climatic conditions of the time. Their paleontological utility derives from an abundance numbering in millions of cells per gram in organic marine deposits, even when such deposits are generally not fossiliferous. Palynomorphs, however, generally have been destroyed in metamorphic or recrystallized rocks.

Typically, palynomorphs are dinoflagellates, acritarchs, spores, pollen, fungi, scolecodonts (scleroprotein teeth, jaws and associated features of polychaete annelid) worms, arthropod organs (such as insect-mouth parts), chitinozoans and microforams.

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