Foraminifera, or informally "forams", are tiny marine organisms. They are fun to study because they are not only an important part of the marine food web but also because they provide big clues to scientists trying to understand our earth, ocean and atmosphere.

This series of web pages explores various aspects of forams. In What is a Foram? you will find out what living forams are like - what they look like, what they eat and where they live. In Foram Test Construction we will discuss how foram tests (shells) have changed through time and share some cool images of the four test types.

Foram Evolution focuses on how forams have evolved over the last 500 million years and Why are Forams Important? outlines the unique characteristics of forams that make them so useful to scientists. Our Forams for Correlation and Forams Highlight Pollution subtopics describe ways that forams are routinely being used by scientists today; the first looks at how forams are used in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and in the Petroleum Industry, while the second steps through how forams are aiding in pollution studies of Biscayne Bay, Florida and in Long Island Sound. To see the full organization of the Forams Unit, select Foram Topic Map.

If you are interested in research and would prefer to access raw samples, data or images go to Foram Data Sets.

Rosalina globularis in darkfield illumination. (Photo courtesy the Foram Gallery by Wim van Egmond and Brian Darnton)

Take a quick look at the photo above. This is a foram test without the organism. Think of it like a shell you pick up along the beach, except this test is very small, about the size of a grain of sand. What are those small bumps? What might the whole organism have looked like? Did they all look the same? What did they eat and where did they live?