Schackoina cenomana, from Scientific Ocean Drilling.

Belongs within: Globothalamea.
Contains: Fursenkoinidae, Glabratellidae, Chilostomellidae, Astrononionina, Florilus, Almaenidae, Nonion, Planorbulinida, Lepidocyclinidae, Orbitoididae, Lepidorbitoididae, Rotalioidea, Discocyclinidae, Pellatispiridae, NummulitidaeCycloclypeus, Heterosteginidae, Discorbidae, Globigerinana, Uvigerinidae, Bolivinitida, Sphaeroidinoidea, Cassidulinidae, Buliminidae, Rosalinida, Turrilinidae.

The Rotaliida are a diverse group of Foraminifera, characterised by a test composed of radial calcite. The planktonic Globigerinida, though commonly treated as a separate group, are phylogenetically nested within the rotaliids (Pawlowski et al. 2013). Other subgroups of the Rotaliida include the Middle Triassic to Recent Discorbacea, which possess single, noncanaliculate walls and septa (Loeblich & Tappan 1964b).

The Nonionidae are a group of Foraminifera known from the Upper Cretaceous to the present (Loeblich & Tappan 1964b).

The Buliminacea are a lineage of originally high trochospiral Foraminifera known from the Upper Triassic to the present (Loeblich & Tappan 1964b).

The Rotaliida: building a wall
Published 9 July 2012
Tests of Elphidium crispum, photographed by Spike Walker.

The foraminifers have been featured on this site a number of times before, when various members of this diverse group of unicellular organisms have been introduced. Today, I thought I’d take a look at the broader classification of forams through the lens of one of their major subgroups, the rotaliidans.

The earliest classifications of forams divided them on the basis of the number and arrangement of chambers within the test, but over time the composition of the test walls came to be also recognised as an important feature (Haynes 1990). This reached an apotheosis of sorts in the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology classification of Loeblich and Tappan (1964), in which the forams were divided between five suborders primarily on the basis of test composition. These were the Allogromiina (with membranous or chitinous tests), Textulariina (with agglutinated tests) and three suborders with calcareous tests but differing wall structures: the microgranular Fusulinina, the porcelaneous, imperforate Miliolina and the hyaline, perforate Rotaliina (other authors would treat these groups as orders, with the suffix -ida instead of -ina). However, later authors (including Loeblich and Tappan themselves) regarded this classification as somewhat oversimplified, and divided groups such as the planktonic rather than benthic Globigerinida, the aragonitic rather than calcitic Robertinida, the Lagenida with monolamellar rather than bilamellar walls, and the high-spired or serial rather than planispiral Buliminida from the Rotaliida proper (Haynes 1990). However, many of the subdivisions within forams remained somewhat artificial, and potentially did not reflect true evolutionary relationships.

Bulimina marginata, photographed by Fabrizio Frontalini.

Molecular phylogenetics of forams got off to a fairly rocky start. For various reasons, extraction of reliably genetic samples from forams is a difficult process (for instance, their tendency to live in symbiotic associations makes contamination a continuing issue). However, studies have progressed to the point where a broad outline is beginning to emerge. One significant agreement between studies has been the monophyly of forams with a perforate calcareous test (Flakowski et al. 2005; Schweizer et al. 2008). The ‘Globigerinida’ and ‘Buliminida’ have both been shown to fall within this clade, and should probably not be distinguished from the Rotaliida. No representatives of the Lagenida or Robertinida appear to have been analysed molecularly; the lagenidans may be an independent lineage, while the robertinidans may be closely related to the Rotaliida (Sen Gupta 2002).

Suggested relationships of major foraminiferan groups from Sen Gupta (2002). This arrangement, which is somewhat concordant with available molecular data, proposes two separate lineages of multi-chambered forams, with calcareous members in each.

Within the Rotaliida, the most extensive molecular analysis has been that of Schweizer et al. (2008), whose results support a division between three main clades. Though reasonably well supported molecularly, these clades do not correspond to morphological divisions: the ‘Buliminida’, for instance, are divided between at least two clades. The planktonic forms may also be polyphyletic within the Rotaliida, though analyses have been inconsistent on their exact position in the clade (and Schweizer et al. do not include any globigerinidans in their analysis). Not all molecular results clash with the morphology, though: the Nummulitidae, a group of giant discus-shaped forams that get up to five centimetres in diameter, are one of a number of families that remain supported by either data source.

Internal chambers of Nummulites gizehensis, from the Natural History Museum. This species is most famous for being the major component of the limestone used in the construction of the pyramids of Giza.
Systematics of Rotaliida

Characters (from Pawlowski et al. 2013): Wall of low magnesium calcite, optically radial, bilamellar, perforate; internal canal system may be present; may be planktonic.

<==Rotaliida (see below for synonymy)
    |--Pullenia Parker & Jones in Carpenter, Parker & Jones 1862PHT13, LT64b [Pullenidae, Pulleniinae]
    |    |--*P. bulloides (d’Orbigny 1846) [=Nonionina bulloides; incl. N. sphaeroides d’Orbigny 1826 (n. n.)]LT64b
    |    |--P. coreyelliC40
    |    |--P. quinqueloba (Reuss 1851) [=Nonionina quinqueloba]H03
    |    |--P. salisburyi Stewart & Stewart 1930H03
    |    `--P. subcarinataLT64a
    |  `--Orbitoidida [Orbitoidacea, Orbitoidoidea]B-F08
    |       |--LepidocyclinidaeLT64a
    |       |--OrbitoididaeC40
    |       |--LepidorbitoididaeM13
    |       |--Droogerinella Popescu & Brotea 1995 [Droogerinellidae]M13
    |       |--Orbitosiphon Rao 1940LT64b [OrbitosiphonidaeM13]
    |       |    |--*O. punjabensis (Davies in Davies & Pinfold 1937) [=Lepidocyclina (Polylepidina) punjabensis]LT64b
    |       |    `--O. praepunjabensisB-F08
    |       `--LinderinidaeM13
    |            |--Caudriella Haman & Huddleston 1984B-F08
    |            |    `--C. ospinae (Caudri 1974)B-F08
    |            `--Linderina Schlumberger 1893C40
    |                 |--*L. brugesi Schlumberger 1893C40
    |                 |--L. buranensisB-F08
    |                 `--L. floridensisB-F08
    |  `--Nummulitida [Nummulitacea, Nummulitoidea]M13
    |       |  i. s.: DiscocyclinidaeM13
    |       |         PellatispiridaeM13
    |       |         Asterocyclina Gümbel 1870LT64b (see below for synonymy)
    |       |           |--A. stellata (d’Archiac 1846)C40, LT64b (see below for synonymy)
    |       |           |--*Cisseis’ asteriscus Gupy 1886LT64b
    |       |           |--A. georgiana [=Discocyclina (Asterocyclina) georgiana]C40
    |       |           |--*Asteriacites’ patellarisLT64b
    |       |           |--‘Orthophragmina pentagonalis’ Deprat 1905 non Asterodiscus pentagonalis Schafhäutl 1863LT64b
    |       |           |--*Orthocyclina’ soeroeanensis van der Vlerk 1933C40
    |       |           |--A. stellaB-F08
    |       |           `--‘Orthophragmina (*Asterodiscocyclina)’ stewarti Berry 1928LT64b
    |       |--NummulitidaePHT13
    |       `--+--CycloclypeusB-F08
    |          `--HeterosteginidaeB-F08
    |    |--DiscorbinoideaM13
    |    |    |--DiscorbidaePHT13
    |    |    `--Torresina Parr 1947LT64b [TorresinidaeM13]
    |    |         `--*T. haddoni Parr 1947LT64b
    |    `--AlabaminoideaM13
    |         |--AlabaminidaeLT64b
    |         |--OsangulariidaeM13
    |         |--Coleites Plummer 1934LT64b [ColeitidaeM13]
    |         |    `--*C. reticulosa (Plummer 1927) [=Pulvinulina reticulosa]LT64b
    |         |--Quadrimorphina Finlay 1939LT64b [=Gyromorphina Marie 1941LT64b; QuadrimorphinidaeM13]
    |         |    `--*Q. allomorphinoides (Reuss 1860) [=Valvulina allomorphinoides]LT64b
    |         `--GloborotalitidaeM13
    |              |--Conorotalites Kaever 1958HW93
    |              |    `--*C. aptiensis (Bettenstaedt 1952) [=Globorotalites bartensteini aptiensis]LT64b
    |              `--Globorotalites Brotzen 1942LT64b
    |                   |--*G. multisepta (Brotzen 1936) [=Globorotalia multisepta]LT64b
    |                   `--G. michelinianaLT64b
    |  `--SerioideaAB19
    |       |  i. s.: Globobulimina Cushman 1927LT64b [incl. Desinobulimina Cushman & Parker 1940LT64b; GlobobuliminidaeAB19]
    |       |           |--*G. pacifica Cushman 1927LT64b
    |       |           |--G. affinisJW99
    |       |           |--G. auriculata (Bailey 1851)H03 [=Bulimina auriculataH03, B. (*Desinobulimina) auriculataLT64b]
    |       |           |    |--G. a. auriculataLT64b
    |       |           |    `--G. a. gullmarensisLT64b
    |       |           |--G. perversa (Cushman 1921) [=Bulimina pyrula var. perversa]H03
    |       |           |--G. spinensisJW99
    |       |           `--G. turgidaLT64b
    |       |--UvigerinidaePHT13
    |       |--BolivinitidaAB19
    |       |--SphaeroidinoideaAB19
    |       `--CassidulinidaM13
    |            |--CassidulinidaeAB19
    |            |--CassidinidaeM13
    |            |--Cassidulinita Suzin 1952HW93 (see below for synonymy)
    |            |    `--*C. prima Suzin in Voloshinova & Dain 1952LT64b
    |            `--OrthoplectidaeM13
    |                 |--Orthoplecta Brady 1884LT64b
    |                 |    `--*O. clavata (Brady 1884) [=Cassidulina (*Orthoplecta) clavata]LT64b
    |                 `--Elongobula Finlay 1939M13
    |                      `--*E. chattonensis Finlay 1939 [=Buliminoides chattonensis]LT64b
       `--+--Melonis de Montfort 1808PHT13, LT64b (see below for synonymy)
          |    |--M. pompilioides (Fichtel & Moll 1798) (see below for synonymy)LT64b
          |    |--M. affinisLJ98
          |    |--M. barleeanumJW99
          |    |--M. maoricaH90
          |    |--M. nicobarensis (Cushman 1963) [=Nonion nicobarensis]H03
          |    |--‘Rotalia’ tuberculifera Reuss 1862 [=Gavelinonion tuberculiferum]LT64b
          |    |--‘Nautilus’ umbilicatulus Walker & Jacob in Kanmacher 1798 [=*Gavelinonion umbilicatulum]LT64b
          |    `--M. zaandamiLT64b
             `--Turrilinina [Turrilinacea]M13
                  |--Tosaia Takayanagi 1953LT64b [TosaiidaeM13]
                  |    `--*T. hanzawai Takayanagi 1953LT64b
                  |--Praeplanctonia Georgescu 2009 [Praeplanctonidae, Praeplanctoniidae]M13
                  |    `--*P. globifer Georgescu 2009M13
                  |    |--Pseudobulimella de Klasz et al. 1964HW93
                  |    `--Virgulinella Cushman 1932LT64b [VirgulinellidaeM13]
                  |         |--*V. pertusa (Reuss 1861) [=Virgulina pertusa]LT64b
                  |         |--V. gunteri [=Virgulina (Virgulinella) gunteri]C40
                  |         `--V. miocenica [=Virgulina (Virgulinella) miocenica]C40
                       |--Hopkinsina Howe & Wallace 1932HW93
                       |   `--*H. danvillensis Howe & Wallace 1932LT64b
                       `--Stainforthia Hofker 1956PHT13, LT64b
                            |--*S. concava (Höglund 1947) [=Virgulina concava]LT64b
                            `--S. fusiformisPHT13
Rotaliida incertae sedis:
    |--L. costulatumS05
    `--L. limbataS05
  Fontbotia wuellerstorfi (Schwager 1866)G91, H03 [=Anomalina wuellerstorfiH03]
  Paracibicides edomicaS05
  Rugobolivinella pendensS05
  Glabratellida [Glabratellacea, Glabratelloidea]M13
    |--Buliminoides Cushman 1911LT64b [BuliminoididaeM13]
    |    `--*B. williamsonianus (Brady 1881)LT64b, A68 [=Bulimina williamsonianaLT64b]
    |--Heronallenia Chapman & Parr 1931C40 [HeronallenidaeM13]
    |    |--*H. wilsoni (Heron-Allen & Earland 1922) [=Discorbina wilsoni]LT64b
    |    |--H. lingulataS05
    |    `--H. parriQ72
         |--Rossyatella Pawlowski & Zaninetti 1993M13
         `--Rotaliella Grell 1954LT64b
              |--R. heterocaryotica Grell 1954LT64b
              `--R. roscoffensisMS98
  Chilostomellida [Chilostomellacea]M13
    |--Lublinella Gawor-Biedowa 1987 [Lublinidae]G-B87
    |    `--*L. lublinensis Gawor-Biedowa 1987G-B87
    `--Pallaimorphina Tappan 1957LT64b [PallaimorphinidaeM13]
         `--*P. ruckerae Tappan 1957 [=Quadrimorphina ruckerae]LT64b
  Chilostomellina Cushman 1926LT64b
    `--*C. fimbriata Cushman 1926LT64b
  Cribropullenia Thalmann 1937 [=Antillesina Galloway & Heminway 1941]LT64b
    `--*C. marielensis (Palmer 1936) [=Nonion marielensis, *Antillesina marielensis]LT64b
  Spirotecta Belford 1961LT64b
    `--*S. pellicula Belford 1961LT64b
         |--Nonionellina Voloshinova 1958AB19, LT64b
         |    `--*N. labradrica (Dawson 1860)LT64b, H03 [=Nonionina labradricaH03]
         `--Nonionella Cushman 1926 [Nonionellidae]HW93
              |--*N. miocenica Cushman 1926C40, H03 [incl. N. miocenica var. stella Cushman & Moyer 1930H03]
              |--N. auris (d’Orbigny 1839)A68
              |--N. bradyiJW99
              |--N. globosa Ishiwada 1950 [incl. N. higashiyamaensis Matsunaga 1963]H03
              |--N. novozealandicaH90
              `--N. turgida (Williamson 1858) [=Rotalina turgida]H03
    |--Epistominitella Poroshina 1966HW93
    |--Baggatella Howe 1939LT64b [BaggatellinaeM13]
    |    `--*B. inconspicua Howe 1939LT64b
    `--Caucasina Khalilov 1951 [incl. Aeolostreptis Loeblich & Tappan 1957; Caucasininae]LT64b
         |--C. schischkinskayae (Samoylova 1947) (see below for synonymy)LT64b
         `--C. vitrea (Cushman & Parker 1936) [=Buliminella vitrea, *Aeolostreptis vitrea]LT64b
  Reussellidae [Reussellinae, Reussiinae]M13
    |--Chrysalidinella Schubert 1908HW93 [incl. Chrysalidinoides Uchio 1952LT64b]
    |    |--*C. dimorpha (Brady 1881) [=Chrysalidina dimorpha]LT64b
    |    `--C. pacifica (Uchio 1952) [=*Chrysalidinoides pacificus]LT64b
    `--Reussella Galloway 1933C40 [=Reussia Schwager 1877 non McCoy 1854LT64b]
         |--*R. spinulosa (Reuss 1850) [=Verneuilina spinulosa, *Reussia spinulosa]LT64b
         |--R. armataS05
         `--R. simplexS05
    |--Quadratobuliminella de Klasz 1953HW93
    |    `--*Q. pyramidalis de Klasz 1953LT64b
    `--Buliminella Cushman 1911C40
         |--*B. elegantissima (d’Orbigny 1839) [=Bulimina elegantissima]LT64b
         |--B. basicostata Parr 1950A68
         |--B. carseyaeC40
         |--B. creta [=Elongobula creta]LT64b
         |--B. garcilis Collins 1953A68
         `--B. grataH90
  Trimosina Cushman 1927C40 [TrimosinidaeM13]
    |--*T. milletti Cushman 1927LT64b
    `--T. spinulosa [=Mimosina spinulosa]C40
  Tubulogenerinidae [Tubulogenerinina]M13
    |--Rectobulimina Marie 1956M13, LT64b
    |    `--*R. carpentierae Marie 1956LT64b
    `--Tubulogenerina Cushman 1929LT64b
         |--*T. tubulifera (Parker & Jones 1863) [=Textularia (Bigenerina) tubulifera]LT64b
         |--T. mooraboolensisC40
         |--‘Bifarina’ reticulosaLT64b
         `--‘Bifarina’ zanzibarensisLT64b
  Nuttallides Finlay 1939C40 [NuttalidaeAB19, Nuttalidininae]
    `--*N. trumpyi (Nuttall 1930) [=Eponides trumpyi]LT64b
  Rubratella Grell 1956LT64b [RubratellidaeAB19]
    `--*R. intermedia Grell 1956LT64b
  Murrayinella [Murrayinellidae]AB19
Nomen nudum: Nonionella aberrans Rhumbler in Anonymous 1949LT64b

Asterocyclina Gümbel 1870LT64b [=Asterodiscus Schafhäutl 1863 nec Ehrenberg 1840 nec Gray 1847LT64b; incl. Asteriacites von Schlotheim 1822 non Schlotheim 1820LT64b, Asterodiscocyclina Berry 1928LT64b, Cisseis Guppy 1886 nec Laporte & Gory 1839 nec Mulsant 1850LT64b, Isodiscodina van der Weijden 1940LT64b, Orthocyclina van der Vlerk 1933LT64b; AsterocyclinidaeM13]

Asterocyclina stellata (d’Archiac 1846)C40, LT64b [=Calcarina stellataLT64b, Discocyclina (Asterocyclina) stellataC40; incl. *Asterodiscus pentagonalis Schafhäutl 1863LT64b, *Asterocyclina pentagonalisLT64b]

Cassidulinita Suzin 1952HW93 [incl. Cassidulinella Suzin in Voloshinova & Dain 1952 non Natland 1940LT64b; CassidulinitidaeM13]

Caucasina schischkinskayae (Samoylova 1947) [=Bulimina schischkinskye; incl. *C. oligocenica Khalilov 1951]LT64b

Melonis de Montfort 1808PHT13, LT64b [=Melonia Bronn 1849 nec Lamarck 1822 nec Schinz 1825LT64b; incl. Gavelinonion Hofker 1957LT64b, Melossis Pallas in Oken 1815LT64b; Melonidae, Melonisinae]

Melonis pompilioides (Fichtel & Moll 1798) [=Nautilus pompilioides, *Melossis pompilioides; incl. *Melonis etruscus de Montfort 1808]LT64b

Rotaliida [Allomorphinellinae, Basistoma, Biforaminata, Buliminacea, Buliminida, Buliminina, Buliminoida, Cassidulinacea, Cellulacea, Conorbida, Dentata, Deuteroforaminata, Discorbacea, Discorbina, Discorboida, Discorboidea, Eponidacea, Flexostylidia, Helicostegia, Hellenoidea, Milleporita, Nantilites, Nonionida, Nonionina, Nonionoida, Nonionoidea, Orthostili, Perforida, Perforina, Polycyclica, Polythalamacea, Protoforaminata, Rhabdoidea, Rotaliacea, Rotalidae, Rotalidea, Rotaliina, Rotalina, Telostoma, Virgulininae, Vitrea]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[AB19] Adl, S. M., D. Bass, C. E. Lane, J. Lukeš, C. L. Schoch, A. Smirnov, S. Agatha, C. Berney, M. W. Brown, F. Burki, P. Cárdenas, I. Čepička, L. Chistyakova, J. del Campo, M. Dunthorn, B. Edvardsen, Y. Eglit, L. Guillou, V. Hampl, A. A. Heiss, M. Hoppenrath, T. Y. James, A. Karnkowska, S. Karpov, E. Kim, M. Kolisko, A. Kudryavtsev, D. J. G. Lahr, E. Lara, L. Le Gall, D. H. Lynn, D. G. Mann, R. Massana, E. A. D. Mitchell, C. Morrow, J. S. Park, J. W. Pawlowski, M. J. Powell, D. J. Richter, S. Rueckert, L. Shadwick, S. Shimano, F. W. Spiegel, G. Torruella, N. Youssef, V. Zlatogursky & Q. Zhang. 2019. Revisions to the classification, nomenclature, and diversity of eukaryotes. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 66: 4–119.

[A68] Albani, A. D. 1968. Recent Foraminiferida of the central coast of New South Wales. AMSA Handbook 1: 1–37.

[B-F08] BouDagher-Fadel, M. K. 2008. The Cenozoic larger benthic foraminifera: the Palaeogene. Developments in Palaeontology and Stratigraphy 21: 297–418.

[C40] Cushman, J. A. 1940. Foraminifera: Their classification and economic use 3rd ed. Harvard University Press: Cambridge (Massachusetts).

Flakowski, J., I. Bolivar, J. Fahrni & J. Pawlowski. 2005. Actin phylogeny of Foraminifera. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 35 (2): 93–102.

[G-B87] Gawor-Biedowa, E. 1987. New benthic foraminifers from the Late Cretaceous of Poland. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 32 (1–2): 49–72.

[G91] Gooday, A. J. 1991. Xenophyophores (Protista, Rhizopoda) in box-core samples from the abyssal northeast Atlantic Ocean (BIOTRANS area): Their taxonomy, morphology, and ecology. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 21 (3): 197–212.

[H03] Hanagata, S. 2003. Miocene–Pliocene Foraminifera from the Niigata oil-fields region, northeastern Japan. Micropaleontology 49 (4): 293–340.

[HW93] Hart, M. B., & C. L. Williams. 1993. Protozoa. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 43–70. Chapman & Hall: London.

Haynes, J. R. 1990. The classification of the Foraminifera—a review of historical and philosophical perspectives. Palaeontology 33 (3): 503–528.

[H90] Hayward, B. W. 1990. Use of foraminiferal data in analysis of Taranaki Basin, New Zealand. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 20: 71–83.

[JW99] Jian, Z.-M., L.-J. Wang, M. Kienast, M. Sarnthein, W. Kuhnt, H.-L. Lin & P.-X. Wang. 1999. Benthic foraminiferal paleoceanography of the South China Sea over the last 40,000 years. Marine Geology 156: 159–186.

[LJ98] Li, Q., N. P. James, B. McGowran, Y. Bone & J. Cann. 1998. Synergetic influence of water masses and Kangaroo Island barrier on foraminiferal distribution, Lincoln and Lacepede shelves, South Australia: a synthesis. Alcheringa 22 (2): 153–176.

[LT64a] Loeblich, A. R., Jr & H. Tappan. 1964a. Sarcodina: chiefly “thecamoebians” and Foraminiferida. In: Moore, R. C. (ed.) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology pt C. Protista 2 vol. 1. The Geological Society of America and The University of Kansas Press.

[LT64b] Loeblich, A. R., Jr & H. Tappan. 1964b. Sarcodina: chiefly “thecamoebians” and Foraminiferida. In: Moore, R. C. (ed.) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology pt C. Protista 2 vol. 2. The Geological Society of America and The University of Kansas Press.

[MS98] Margulis, L., & K. V. Schwartz. 1998. Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth 3rd ed. W. H. Freeman and Company: New York.

[M13] Mikhalevich, V. I. 2013. New insight into the systematics and evolution of the Foraminifera. Micropaleontology 59 (6): 493–527.

[PHT13] Pawlowski, J., M. Holzmann & J. Tyszka. 2013. New supraordinal classification of Foraminifera: molecules meet morphology. Marine Micropalaeontology 100: 1–10.

[Q72] Quilty, P. G. 1972. The biostratigraphy of the Tasmanian marine Tertiary. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 106: 25–44.

Schweizer, M., J. Pawlowski, T. J. Kouwenhoven, J. Guiard & B. van der Zwaan. 2008. Molecular phylogeny of Rotaliida (Foraminifera) based on complete small subunit rDNA sequences. Marine Micropaleontology 66: 233–246.

[S05] Semeniuk, T. A. 2005. Fossil foraminiferal assemblages from Pleistocene seagrass-bank deposits of the southern Perth Basin, Western Australia, and their palaeotemperature implications. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 88 (4): 177–190.

Sen Gupta, B. K. 2002. Modern Foraminifera. Springer.

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