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(Graptolithina), a subphylum of extinct marine colonial animals of phylum Hemichordata.
Graptolites are known from the Cambrian to the Carboniferous periods; they were most common in the Ordovi-cian. Silurian, and lower Devonian periods. The skeletons of graptolites consisted of chitinous branches formed from little compartments in which the zooids lived. Graptolites were either benthic or planktonic. Planktonic graptolites had a swim bladder filled with gas released by the zooids as a product of their vital processes. There were two classes: Stereostolonata, with hard stolons and functionally varied compartments, and Graptoloidea, without stolons and with uniform compartments. Graptolites are of great importance as index fossils.
REFERENCEObut, A. M. “Tip Hemichordata (Gemikhordovye): Podtip Graptolithina (Graptolity).” In Osnovy paleontologii: Iglokozhie, gemikhordovye, pogonofory i shchetinkocheliustnve. Moscow, 1964.
A. M. OBUT