Matoniaceae: Ferns with a Heritage

Ferns are one of those groups of organisms, like sharks and cockroaches, that are not really as ancient as most people imagine. For all that ferns are indelibly associated in the public conscience with antediluvian imagery of steamy coal swamps and great lumbering reptiles, the dominant fern groups that can be seen today did not… Continue reading Matoniaceae: Ferns with a Heritage

Getting Your Diatoms in a Row

Diatoms are one of the world’s primary groups of aquatic unicellular algae. Perhaps only the cyanobacteria rival them for ecological significance. They play a crucial role in the production and fixation of nutrients on which other organisms depend. Colony of Melosira moniliformis attached to some sort of weed, copyright Frank Fox. The last individual seems… Continue reading Getting Your Diatoms in a Row

Fusulinellidae, -inae, summat like that…

In an earlier post, I introduced you all to the fusulinids, a group of complex foraminiferans that were abundant during the later Palaeozoic. In that post, I alluded to the complex array of terminology that can be used when describing fusulinids but said that I would rather not cover it at that time. Well, this… Continue reading Fusulinellidae, -inae, summat like that…

The Life and Times of Dissodinium

I’ve referred before to the position of the minute crustaceans known as copepods as one of the major groups of animals making up the marine zooplankton. Copepods form a significant part of the diet for a wide range of other marine animals: fish, molluscs, jellyfish, you name it. They are also targeted by other organisms… Continue reading The Life and Times of Dissodinium

Holding Forams Together

Nouria polymorphinoides, from In past posts relating to the Foraminifera, I’ve made reference to the changes in classification undergone by this group over the years. Forams are unusual among unicellular organisms in producing a hard, often complex test that means they have both left an extensive fossil record and provided a number of characters… Continue reading Holding Forams Together

Sphagnum subgenus Cymbifolia

Prairie sphagnum Sphagnum palustre, copyright Bernd Haynold. Belongs within: Sphagnales. Sphagnum subgenus Cymbifolium is a group of robust sphagnum mosses with unbordered stem leaves and rough branch leaves (Dixon 1924). Characters (from Dixon 1924): Plants robust. Cuticular cells of stem and branches fibrose and porose. Stem leaves not bordered. Branch leaves broadly cymbiform, concave, cucullate… Continue reading Sphagnum subgenus Cymbifolia


Buxbaumia aphylla, copyright Bernd Haynold. Belongs within: Bryophyta. The Tetraphidales are a group of mosses with leaves in which the costa is narrow or absent, and capsules with a nematodontous peristome (that is, the teeth are, at least in part, composed of entire cells). <==Tetraphidales SK02     |–Tetraphis [Tetraphidaceae, Tetraphididae] FHH01     |    |–T. browniana [=Bryum brownianum, Georgia… Continue reading Tetraphidales


Greater water-moss Fontinalis antipyretica, copyright Tab Tannery. Belongs within: Bryidae. The Fontinalaceae are a group of aquatic, floating mosses that are adhered to the substrate only at their base (Dixon 1924). Characters (from Dixon 1924): Leaves in several rows or tristichous, nerveless or single-nerved, cells rhomboid—hexagonal, or linear and subvermincular, long, smooth. Capsule immersed or… Continue reading Fontinalaceae

Hypnum exannulatum

Hypnum exannulatum, from here. Belongs within: Hypnum. Hypnum exannulatum is a relatively rigid, often purplish moss. Characters (from Dixon 1924): Plants usually relatively compact and rigid, pinnately branched, mostly of a deep, often purplish colour, typically but less commonly green or yellowish; leaves close, strongly falcate, twisted when dry, not rigidly circinate, glossy at back,… Continue reading Hypnum exannulatum


Creeping feathermoss Amblystegium serpens, copyright Malcolm Storey. Belongs within: Amblystegiaceae. Amblystegium is a genus of mosses found in damp habitats with short cells in the leaves and without a beak on the capsule lid (Dixon 1924). Characters (from Dixon 1924): Plants of differing habit and branching, rarely pinnate. Leaves usually small, mostly more or less… Continue reading Amblystegium