Facts about Graptolites, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Graptolites

Graptolites



Graptolite Fossil

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Hemichordata
  Class Graptolithina
Graptolites are an extinct group of marine animals that lived in the seas from the Cambrian period until the end Carboniferous period. The were extremely successful and lived in colonies - there were both benthic (permanently attached to the sea-floor by a "root") and pelagic (floating freely, or attached to seaweed) varieties.

Graptolite are very common, particularly those which were deposited in mud rocks and shales, as a result are often used as "index fossils" - that is to say that rocks can be dated. Additionally, The particular type of graptolite fossil present in a rock can sometimes used by scientists to estimate the temperature or depth of a region at the time of the Graptolite's lifetime.

Although Graptolite fossils tend to be quite common, they are not always easy to see. Even if seen, many casual observers mistake them for fossil plants, and even Carl Linnaeus (the Swedish botanist who was the principle founder of modern taxonomy) regarded them as "pictures resembling fossils rather than true fossils"

Finally, the presence of two distinct types of Grapolites in the rocks of Europe and North America, just like the two distinct types of Trilobites found in the very same rocks, has been regarded as evidence of an ancient ocean (known as the "Iapetus Ocean") that once lay between the two continents. The Iapetus Ocean is thought to have closed-up again when all the continents joined together in the super-continent of Pangaea - and when a new ocean (the Atlantic Ocean), separating Europe and North America, did eventually appear, it did so along a somewhat different line of separation.

Evidence for the Iapetus Ocean

Graptolites Timeline:



Graptolites were marine colonial animals that lived from the Cambrian period to the Carboniferous periods

Graptolites were marine colonial animals that lived from the Cambrian period to the Carboniferous periods


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Graptolite Books


Here are some books from Amazon.com:

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Graptolite Paleobiology (TOPA Topics in Paleobiology)
By Jörg Maletz

Wiley-Blackwell
Hardcover (336 pages)

Graptolite Paleobiology (TOPA Topics in Paleobiology)
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The graptolites constitute one of the geologically most useful taxonomic groups of fossils for dating rock successions, understanding paleobiogeography and reconstructing plate tectonic configurations in the Lower Palaeozoic. Graptolites were largely planktic, marine organisms, and as one of the first groups that explored the expanses of the world’s oceans are vital for understanding Palaeozoic ecology.  They are the best and often the only fossil group for dating Lower Palaeozoic rock successions precisely. Thousands of taxa have been described from all over the planet and are used for a wide variety of geological and palaeontological (biological) research topics. The recent recognition of the modern pterobranch Rhabdopleura as a living benthic graptolite enables a much better understanding and interpretation of the fossil Graptolithina.

In the decades since the latest edition of the Graptolite Treatise, the enormous increase of knowledge on this group of organisms has never been synthesised in a compelling and coherent way, and information is scattered in scientific publications and difficult to sort through. This volume provides an up-to-date insight into research on graptolites. Such research has advanced considerably with the use of new methods of investigation and documentation.  SEM investigation and research on ultrastructure of the tubaria has made it possible to compare extant and extinct taxa in much more detail.  Cladistic interpretation of graptolite taxonomy and evolution has advanced the understanding of this group of organisms considerably in the last two decades, and has highlighted their importance in our understanding of evolutionary processes. This book will show graptolites, including their modern, living relatives, in a quite new and fascinating light, and will demonstrate the impact that the group has had on the evolution of the modern marine ecosystem.

This book is aimed not only at earth scientists but also at biologists, ecologists and oceanographers. It is a readable and comprehensible volume for students at the MSc level, while remaining accessible to undergraduates and non-specialists seeking up-to-date information about this fascinating topic in palaeobiology.

Late Silurian and early Devonian graptolite, brachiopod, and coral faunas from northwestern and Arctic Canada (The Geological Association of Canada special paper ; no. 17)
By Dennis Edward Jackson & A. E. H. Pedder

Geological Association of Canada
Hardcover (159 pages)

Late Silurian and early Devonian graptolite, brachiopod, and coral faunas from northwestern and Arctic Canada (The Geological Association of Canada special paper ; no. 17)
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Graptolites: Writing in the Rocks (Fossils Illustrated)
Boydell Press
Hardcover (328 pages)

Graptolites: Writing in the Rocks (Fossils Illustrated)
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Graptolites lived in the earth's oceans from 540 million years ago to 320 million years ago, when they became extinct. For most of that time they dominated the upper layers of the ocean in tropical regions as the earth's first large zooplankton. They varied from a few millimetres in length to more than a metre; they lived by the countless billion, and their skeletons are preserved today in vast numbers in varied strata in every continent except Antarctica. Because of their diversity, they are a powerful correlative tool: units of time of much less than a million years are identifiable, and within individual rock sequences evolutionary changes can be studied, which makes them of prime importance to economic geologists. Graptolites are, however, still the subject of lively debate — little is established about their lives, and although skeletons abound, the soft parts of only one graptolite have been found — in deposits 500 million years old in Tasmania. As well as providing a full summary of the current state of knowledge relating to graptolites, the team of specialists who contribute to this book also address the biological questions raised by these fossils, and provide pointers for further research. Contents: Part I. The Organism: Definition and appearance; Preservation; Construction; Distribution; Biology; Evolution; Relationship to other organisms; Sex life. Part II. The Fossil: Collection and preparation; Identification; Correlative uses. Appendices: Glossary of technical terms; Where to find them in Britain and other countries; Classification and evolution; Further reading.BARRIE RICKARDS is Reader in Palaeobiology, University of Cambridge, and curator of the Sedgwick Museum of Geology. DOUGLAS PALMER is a freelance geologist and writer.
The Ordovician and Graptolites of Lithuania: The facies, tectonic structures, graptolites and biostratigraphy of the Ordovician
By Juozas Pa?kevi?ius

Juozas Pa Kevi Ius
Paperback (116 pages)

The Ordovician and Graptolites of Lithuania: The facies, tectonic structures, graptolites and biostratigraphy of the Ordovician
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  • The Ordovician and Graptolites of Lithuania
Product Description:
The principles to regionalise the Ordovician confacies and tectonic structures in the East Baltic area are defined. The three confacies belts and four tectonics structures have been distinguished in the East Baltic Ordovician Basin. The 44 graptolites, including 19 dendroid and 25 graptoloid species and subspecies, have been palaeontologically investigated. The nematophorous genus of Rhabdinopora by E. Eichwald (1855) is rehabilitated. A new subgenus Rhabdinopora (Dictyograptus) is investigated. The zonal graptolites scale is improved. The stratigraphy of the East Baltic Ordovician basin is based on the research done on graptolite, conodont and ostracod zones, as well the other fauna groups based on lithostratigraphical and ecoctratigraphical studies.
Special Papers in Palaeontology, Graptolites from the Upper Ordovician and Lower Silurian of Jordan
By David K. Loydell

Wiley-Blackwell
Released: 2007-11-12
Paperback (68 pages)

Special Papers in Palaeontology, Graptolites from the Upper Ordovician and Lower Silurian of Jordan
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Special Papers in Palaeontology, published by The Palaeontological Association, is a series of substantial separate works conforming to the style of the Palaeontology journal. Two issues are published each year and feature high standard illustrations.

  • This issue investigates the forty-two graptoloid graptolite species which are described from the upper Hirnantian persculptus Biozone, lower Rhuddanian ascensus-acuminatus and vesiculosus biozones and Aeronian of Jordan.
  • Studies the recent interest in modelling the deposition of the organic-rich shales of latest Ordovician and early Silurian age in Jordan which has led to the collection of a considerable number of graptolites.
  • Brings together researchers, geologists and enthusiasts who continue to find material of significance.
  • Includes 2 plates and 22 text-figures.
Darriwilian to Katian (Ordovician) Graptolites from Northwest China
Elsevier
Hardcover (370 pages)

Darriwilian to Katian (Ordovician) Graptolites from Northwest China
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Darriwilian to Sandbian (Ordovician) Graptolites from Northwest China analyzes the significance of these exquisite, mostly pyritic, graptolites of the middle to late Ordovician period from North China and Tarim, China―locations that have developed the world’s most complete successions of strata and fossil records.

The book provides the first systematic account of the renowned graptolite faunas, with over 100 species belonging to 45 genera and 15 families preserved in black shale and limestone, also presenting a comprehensive accounting of the graptolites during the critical transition from the middle to late Ordovician period with important data on new morphologies, the latest conventions in classification, diversity change and evolution, refined biostratigraphy divisions, and correlation with other major regions or continents.

The book provides a key resource for paleontologists, stratigraphic specialists, petroleum geologists, and graduate students in varying fields of geology.

  • Presents the first systematic accounting of these world-renowned graptolite fauna
  • Provides an ideal reference for those interested in rocks, fossils, and biostratigraphy
  • Presents over 100 species belonging to 45 genera and 15 families preserved in black shale and limestone
  • Includes research from the top, most influential, Ordovician graptolite and conodont paleontologists in the world
  • Generously illustrated with four-color figures and photos throughout
Graptolites of New York
By Rudolf Ruedemann

Ulan Press
Released: 2011-06-05
Paperback (662 pages)

Graptolites of New York
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Product Description:
This book was originally published prior to 1923, and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work. While some publishers have opted to apply OCR (optical character recognition) technology to the process, we believe this leads to sub-optimal results (frequent typographical errors, strange characters and confusing formatting) and does not adequately preserve the historical character of the original artifact. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work or the scanning process itself. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy seeing the book in a format as close as possible to that intended by the original publisher.
Dendroid graptolites of the Niagaran dolomites at Hamilton, Ontario
By Ray S. Bassler

University of Michigan Library
Paperback (104 pages)

Dendroid graptolites of the Niagaran dolomites at Hamilton, Ontario
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Graptolites of New York Volume 1
By Rudolf Ruedemann

Ulan Press
Released: 2012-08-31
Paperback (396 pages)

Graptolites of New York Volume 1
List Price: $27.99*
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Product Description:
This book was originally published prior to 1923, and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work. While some publishers have opted to apply OCR (optical character recognition) technology to the process, we believe this leads to sub-optimal results (frequent typographical errors, strange characters and confusing formatting) and does not adequately preserve the historical character of the original artifact. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work or the scanning process itself. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy seeing the book in a format as close as possible to that intended by the original publisher.
Paleoecology and Biostratigraphy of Graptolites (Geological Society Special Publication)
By C. P. Hughes

Blackwell Science Inc
Hardcover (288 pages)

Paleoecology and Biostratigraphy of Graptolites (Geological Society Special Publication)
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