The Foraminiferal Genus Orbitolina in North America

Professional Paper 333




The foraminiferal genus Orbitolina has been useful as an index fossil in the Cretaceous rocks of the circumglobal equatorial belt for nearly a century. In Europe and the Near and Middle East enough work has been done on the species to allow their use for approximate correlations within the Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. The study of American specimens of Orbitolina, had been almost neglected although they were used in a rather cursory fashion for markers of the Lower Cretaceous Trinity strata. Three species had been described and assigned to Orbitolina in the United States, but the validity of each of the species had been questioned. A study of the genus Orbitolina, its type species, its morphology and the stratigraphic and geographic distribution in North America are presented in this report. Stratigraphic sections were measured throughout the area of Lower Cretaceous outcrop in Texas, New Mexico. and Arizona, and samples of Orbitolina were taken from these measured sections. Several thousand thin sections were prepared from which 8 species of Orbitolina, 7 of them new, were recognized. Orbitolina texana (Roemer) was found to be confined to the lower part of the Glen Rose limestone and its equivalents. Orbitolina, minuta n. sp. is essentially confined to the upper part of the Glen Rose limestone and its equivalents. Four of the species are known only from the Arizona and New Mexico region. The species of Orbitolina are useful stratigraphically, but all their characters-internal as well as external-must be considered. The use of thin sections for the study of Orbitolina is essential. One of the first things that had to be determined was the correct concept of the genus Orbitolina. The type species had not been determined by earlier authors, although four species had been suggested at various times. With careful study of the early literature, it became apparent that the type species is Orbitulites lenticulata Lamarck, 1816=Madreporites lenticularis Blumenbach, 1805 by monotypy. The type species had never been studied using modern techniques. This paper presents the first description and illustrations of the type species based on internal as well as external characters. The American forms of Orbitolina had been referred to the species Orbitolina concava (Lamarck) by Silvestri and others. The necessity of understanding O. concava was apparent. Many misconceptions about O. concava had been developed and propagated until the modern concept no longer included the original material on which the svecies was based. Topotype material of Orbulites concava Lamarck, 1816, was restudied. For the first time both the internal and the external characters are described and illustrated. Orbitolina concava (Lamarck) is not conspecific with any of the North American forms. A thorough knowledge of the morphology of Orbitolina is essential to the interpretation of the features as seen in thin section. Carefully oriented sections were prepared and models built up illustrating the morphology. A new technique was adapted for multiple sectioning of specimens of Orbitolina. Using this technique, several oriented sections can be prepared from one specimen, enabling the correlation of features seen in axial, basal, and tangential sections. This technique should prove useful in the study of similar small objects, and therefore is described and illustrated. The early chambers of microspheric and megalospheric specimens were not well known. A technique for their study was developed and is described. The morphology of the early chambers of both generations is described and illustrated. The nature of the nepionic and neanic chambers of the microspheric generation is described and documented for the first time. The previous supposition of an early trochoid spire in microspheric specimens is rejected in favor of a flaring planispiral coil. This discovery must be considered in a study of the phylogeny. Charts are presented showing the strat

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USGS Numbered Series
The Foraminiferal Genus Orbitolina in North America
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Professional Paper
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Geological Survey (U.S.)
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U.S. Geological Survey
iv, 52.; 14 Plates ** Missing pages 48-51 **