A plankton species thought to have gone extinct more than a million years ago has been found living in the western Pacific Ocean.

Credit: Yoshihito Takano

Kenneth Mertens of Ghent University in Belgium and his colleagues discovered live cysts of the dinoflagellate plankton Dapsilidinium pastielsii (pictured) in the sea floor from Japan to the Philippines and Indonesia. This stably warm region, known as the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, harbours high levels of biodiversity.

The warm waters there could have provided a haven for D. pastielsii to survive in the water column and sediment. Such areas of refuge will be important for maintaining biodiversity in a changing climate, the authors say.

Geology http://doi.org/sb7 (2014)