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NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Calcareous phytoplankton. Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a Calcidiscus leptoporus coccolithophore, a small algal organism, part way through the sexual reproductive phase. The diploid cell (large circles) is emerging from a cover of fused daughter cells (small circles). Coccolithophores are surrounded by a skeleton (coccosphere) of calcium carbonate plates (coccoliths). When the organism dies, the plates separate and sink to the ocean floor. Individual plates have been found in vast numbers and can make up the major component of a particular rock, such as the chalk of England. Specimen from the Alborean Sea, western Mediterranean.
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