Quantitative study of evolution in the Sphaeroidinella lineage in mid-Pleistocene sediment of ODP Hole 154-926A (Appendix A)
Morphological evolution in the late Neogene planktonic foraminifer Sphaeroidinella lineage involves a sudden increase of the percentage of specimens equipped with supplementary apertures (from <30% to >70%) in the mid-Pliocene (about 3.5 Ma). This evolutionary transition, marked by the first occurrence of specimens with large supplementary apertures in the lineage, is denoted the Sphaeroidinella event. Changes in the proportions of the supplementary apertures in the lineage were studied in 24 samples from ODP Hole 926A drilled in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. In addition, detailed chronological models have been compiled for this section as well as for Pliocene sections from DSDP Holes 214, 502A, and 503B, where evolution in the lineage have been analyzed previously. Stratigraphic correlation of the studied sequences suggests that the Sphaeroidinella event took place at about 3.6 Ma in the eastern equatorial Pacific (Hole 503B) and at 3.5–3.6 Ma in the Caribbean (Hole 502A), while in the Atlantic Ocean (Hole 926A) and in the Indian Ocean (Hole 214) the event occurred after 3.5 Ma. The inferred diachrony of the mid-Pliocene Sphaeroidinella transition, which is considered to represent a prime example of punctuated anagenesis, suggests that this evolutionary modality may have an allopatric component. Its short duration (on average less than 50 kyr) and the detailed biochronology that could be established for this event qualifies it as a useful biostratigraphic tool in the low-latitude Pliocene oceans.