This study presents new scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observations of Paleozoic foraminifera. It focuses especially on the wall of three Fusulinida, Sakmarella moelleri, Paraskinnerella skinneri, and Taiyuanella furoni, that belong to the Schwagerinoidea, which are fusulinids with keriothecal test walls. In addition, Eostaf-fella sp. is investigated as an example of the microstructure of the microgranular imperforate tectum.
The fillings of the keriothecal alveoles of Sakmarella, Paraskinnerella, and Taiyuanella yield diverse, characteristic flower-like structures that indicate a gradual evolution of the microstucture of the tests. Sakmarella and Paraskinnerella have flowers with a narrow center, and Taiyuanella has a larger center. The true keriothecal structure, described, for example, in Triticites, is distinguished from these structures by simply filled alveoles. The term “anthotheca” is introduced for the structure with narrow-centered flowers. It can be distinguished from the large-centered flower structure identified as Zhuang’s (1989) stalactotheca.
Following a literature review of previous work on keriothecal structures, several morphofunctional hypotheses are discussed, including the housing of symbiotic algae or cyanobacteria, which leads to the new interpretation that the flowers of the antho- and stalactothecal structures are induced by algal endosymbionts. In addition, we discuss the monophyly of keriothecal fusulinids. The transition from diaphanothecal to keriothecal forms recognized since Thompson (1964) is reinterpreted in terms of relationships with symbiotic algae or cyanobacteria. The Schwagerinoidea constitute an important group in understanding the evolution of larger foraminifera in the late Paleozoic.