geological period following the Cambrian and preceding the Silurian, 1879, coined by English geologist Charles Lapworth (1842-1920) from Latin Ordovices, name of an ancient British tribe in North Wales. The period so called because rocks from it first were studied extensively in the region around Bala in North Wales. The tribe's name is Celtic, literally "those who fight with hammers," from Celtic base *ordo "hammer" + PIE *wik- "to fight, conquer" (see victor).
The second period of the Paleozoic Era, from about 505 to 438 million years ago. During this time most of the Earth's landmasses were gathered in the supercontinent Gondwanaland, located in the Southern Hemisphere. Much of this continent was submerged under shallow seas, and marine invertebrates, including trilobites, brachiopods, graptolites, and conodonts were widespread. The first primitive fishes appeared; some evidence suggests the first land plants may also have appeared at this time. By the end of the Ordovician massive glaciers formed on Gondwanaland, causing sea levels to drop and approximately 60 percent of all known marine invertebrates to become extinct. See Chart at geologic time.