Smaller than a dodo

Grace Manley, one of our interns, writes about her work on planktonic foraminifera…

More Than An Intern

The museum not only contains a huge array of specimens both on display and on the collections, but is home to active research undertaken by research fellows.

My internship involves the study of microfossils formed from organisms known as planktonic foraminifera: single celled DSCN1598 (1)organisms which create a shell up to the size of a few millimetres. As they die these shells fall to the seafloor and often become preserved in the deep sea muds, which may then be drilled up and prepared for study by washing over a sieve. Though a tray of foraminifera may look suspiciously like a tray of white dust, underneath a binocular microscope these small grains reveal a wide variety of shapes from which it is possible (though not always easy!) to identify different species. Study of foraminifera can therefore be carried out at species level over a long period of time; this is not possible…

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