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[grap-tuh-lahyt] /ˈgræp təˌlaɪt/
any colonial animal of the extinct class Graptolithina, most common in the Ordovician and Silurian Periods, thought to be related to the pterobranchs.
Origin of graptolite
1830-40; < Greek graptó(s) painted, marked with letters (verbal adjective from gráphein to write) + -lite
Related forms
[grap-tuh-lit-ik] /ˌgræp təˈlɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for graptolite


any extinct Palaeozoic colonial animal of the class Graptolithina, usually regarded as related to either the hemichordates or the coelenterates: a common fossil, used to determine the age of sedimentary rocks
Word Origin
C19: from Greek graptos written, from graphein to write + -lite
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for graptolite

1838, from Modern Latin graptolithus, literally "written-stone," from Greek graptos "engraved, written, painted" (verbal adjective of graphein; see -graphy) + lithos "stone" (see litho-). So called because the fossils resemble writing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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graptolite in Science
Any of numerous hemichordates of the class Graptolithina. Graptolites form colonies consisting of interlocked cuplike chambers arranged in one or more branches and covered by an exoskeleton. They flourished from the late Cambrian to the early Mississippian Period, and were thought to be extinct until 1992 when scientists discovered what is believed to be a living species. Graptolites are important index fossils used to date the rocks of the Silurian and Ordovician Periods.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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