A detailed morphological study of the enigmatic organic walled microfossil Rhaetipollis
The pre-Cenozoic record of palynomorphs (pollen, spores, or algae remains) is full of taxa which have been found only dispersed in the sediments and for which the botanical affinity is still unclear.
During the past years in situ studies of the pollen or spore content in plant reproductive of having revealed the mother plant for some of them. For others the biological affinity is still unknown: is it pollen (or spore) produced by a land plant or does it represent freshwater or marine algae microfossil? One of these enigmatic palynomorphs is Rhaetipollis germanicus. This species is by some authors tentatively assigned to the Circumpollis group and despite its unknown botanical affinity, used as a biostratigraphic marker for the Late Triassic stage, the Rhaetian.
This palynological MSc project aims at elucidating the botanical affinity of this remarkable microfossil based on a detailed morphological study with different microscopic methods.
Some sample material is present in the collection of the supervisor (W.M. Kürschner) but additional material may be collected during fieldwork in Austria (pending the situation around the Corona pandemic).
Methods that you learn:
- Palynological preparation techniques, extraction, and concentration of palynomorphs from sedimentary rocks.
- Different microscopic techniques such as light microscopy, UV-fluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy, SEM and TEM, FTIR micro-spectroscopy