La Terre est bleue comme une orange” — Paul Éluard, 1929, L’amour la Poésie

The coccolithophorids are truly exceptional life forms. The smallest organisms able to secrete a skeleton, they have opted for biological complexity and ecological flexibilty, and seem to have ensured their destiny as vital participants in the most fundamental processes that regulate the earth system.

Their unique cell surrounds itself with an exoskeleton (coccosphere) of calcium carbonate (mostly calcite, but also aragonite in some instances) precipitated in the form of tiny platelets (coccoliths), some with incomparably delicate morphology, others with remarkably complex structure. With alternately...

You do not currently have access to this article.