Paleontology

1979 Edition

Algae

  • Robert Riding
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-31078-9_4

Algae were among the earliest forms of life on earth and are very abundant in aqueous environments at the present day. They are an extremely diverse group of lower plants characterized by relatively unspecialized reproductive organs rather than by general morphological simplicity. During much of the history of life on earth, algae have had profound effects on the biosphere as sources of both atmospheric oxygen and food for higher organisms.

Ten or more divisions of algae can be recognized, each being equivalent in rank to an animal phylum. They exhibit a wide range of vegetative structure, often with marked parallelism between groups. Consequently, the primary classification of algae is based on more fundamental details such as cell structure and composition, and the nature of food resources and photosynthetic pigments. As a result, the classification of fossil algae is difficult, and must be based primarily on gross morphological features. An additional problem is that relatively few...

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Copyright information

© Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Riding

There are no affiliations available