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OriginsThe Search for Our Prehistoric Past$
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Frank H. T. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702440

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702440.001.0001

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“Endless Forms, Most Beautiful and Most Wonderful”

“Endless Forms, Most Beautiful and Most Wonderful”

(p.224) 15 “Endless Forms, Most Beautiful and Most Wonderful”

Frank H. T. Rhodes

Cornell University Press

This chapter illustrates the richness of marine life and how they contribute to the overall life and ecological balance of our planet. It looks particularly at the vertebrates and invertebrates residing in the ocean, with the latter being the most prolific. The simplest and most abundant invertebrates are the living protists, almost all of microscopic size, including foraminifera, algae, and diatoms; between them, these form the foundation of the complex food chain that supports the richness of marine life. From here the chapter turns to the larger invertebrates; such as the arthropods, sponges, corals, and so on—many of which had largely undergone relatively little change throughout prehistory. The marine vertebrates, in contrast, have undergone considerable change, particularly during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic periods.

Keywords:   oceanic life, marine life, marine vertebrates, marine invertebrates, protists

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