New late Cenozoic acritarchs: evolution, palaeoecology and correlation potential in high latitude oceans
Acritarchs have received limited attention in palynological studies of the Cenozoic, although they have much potential both for refining Neogene and Quaternary stratigraphy, especially in mid- and high northern latitudes, and developing palaeoceanographical reconstructions. Here we formally describe and document the stratigraphical and palaeotemperature ranges (from foraminiferal Mg/Ca) of four new acritarch species: Cymatiosphaera? aegirii sp. nov., Cymatiosphaera? fensomei sp. nov., Cymatiosphaera? icenorum sp. nov. and Lavradosphaera canalis sp. nov. In reviewing the stratigraphical distributions of all species of the genus Lavradosphaera De Schepper & Head, 2008, we demonstrate their correlation potential between the North Atlantic and Bering Sea in the Pliocene. Additionally, Lavradosphaera lucifer De Schepper & Head, 2008 and Lavradosphaera canalis sp. nov., while not themselves overlapping stratigraphically, have morphological intermediates that do partially overlap and may represent an evolutionary trend consequent upon climate cooling in the Late Pliocene. Finally, we show that the highest abundances of the acritarchs presented here were living in the eastern North Atlantic, in surface-water temperatures not very different from today.