Organic-walled resting cysts of planktonic dinoflagellates occur commonly in modern marine sediment where they represent, with rare exceptions, the only geologically preservable part of the life cycle. Although many species do not produce fossilizable resting cysts, upper Quaternary sediments contain a diverse cyst record that is used frequently for paleoenvironmental reconstruction and stratigraphic analysis. Reconstructions of past sea-surface conditions rely on an understanding of the distributions of dinoflagellate cysts in modern sediments linked to their respective environmental parameters, underpinned by sound taxonomy and standardized nomenclature. Stratigraphic studies additionally require knowledge of morphological details to distinguish extant from similar extinct taxa. Here, 51 dinoflagellate cyst species and two informal cyst morphotypes that are commonly encountered during routine palynological analysis of upper Quaternary marine sediments from the Northern Hemisphere are briefly described taxonomically and illustrated. In addition, their lowest stratigraphic occurrences are provided.
- Dinoflagellate cysts