Dinoflagellate fossils: Geological and biological applications

Aurélie Penaud, William Hardy, Clément Lambert, Fabienne Marret, Edwige Masure, Thomas Servais, Raffaele Siano, Mélanie Wary, Kenneth Neil Mertens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

20 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Elsevier Masson SAS Dinoflagellates are part of the marine plankton and about 200 species produce a cyst (dinocyst) during their life cycle, these organic-walled sexually-produced cysts being fossilizable in sediments for hundreds of millions of years. Over the past 40–50 years, dinocysts have led to major advances on Mesozoic-Cenozoic research, in terms of biostratigraphy and paleogeogeography. Dinocyst taxonomy has then been continuously revised, with the tabulation being the main morphological link between living dinoflagellates and fossilized cysts. Over the Quaternary, and based on the principle of uniformitarianism (i.e. species ecology did not change through time), relationships between modern assemblages and present-day environmental factors controlling their distribution also allow for dinocyst-based quantitative reconstructions derived from transfer function calculations. This paper presents a non-exhaustive review of the dinocyst literature allowing the reader to get a perspective about how they were discovered and defined, but also how they are applied in (paleo)ecological studies according to the timescale considered allowing then to provide useful insights into the future climate change and its associated ecological repercussions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-254
JournalRevue de Micropaleontologie
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Ancient DNA
  • Biostratigraphy
  • Cyst-motile stage relationship
  • Dinoflagellate
  • Modern dinocyst distribution
  • Paleoecology


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