The Ordovician (/ - -, - /, or-də-VISH-ee-ən, -doh-, -VISH-ən) is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.6 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago (Mya) to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya.
|485.4 ± 1.9 – 443.8 ± 1.5 Ma|
|Regional usage||Global (ICS)|
|Time scale(s) used||ICS Time Scale|
|First proposed by||Charles Lapworth, 1879|
|Time span formality||Formal|
|Lower boundary definition||FAD of the Conodont Iapetognathus fluctivagus|
|Lower boundary GSSP||Greenpoint section, Green Point, Newfoundland, Canada|
|Upper boundary definition||FAD of the Graptolite Akidograptus ascensus|
|Upper boundary GSSP||Dob's Linn, Moffat, U.K.|
|Atmospheric and climatic data|
|Mean atmospheric O|
|c. 13.5 vol %|
(68 % of modern)
|Mean atmospheric CO|
|c. 4200 ppm|
(15 times pre-industrial)
|Mean surface temperature||c. 16 °C|
(2 °C above modern)
|Sea level above present day||180 m; rising to 220 m in Caradoc and falling sharply to 140 m in end-Ordovician glaciations|
The Ordovician, named after the Welsh tribe of the Ordovices, was defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to resolve a dispute between followers of Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison, who were placing the same rock beds in North Wales in the Cambrian and Silurian systems, respectively. Lapworth recognized that the fossil fauna in the disputed strata were different from those of either the Cambrian or the Silurian systems, and placed them in a system of their own. The Ordovician received international approval in 1960 (forty years after Lapworth's death), when it was adopted as an official period of the Paleozoic Era by the International Geological Congress.
Life continued to flourish during the Ordovician as it did in the earlier Cambrian period, although the end of the period was marked by the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events. Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event considerably increased the diversity of life. Fish, the world's first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, and those with jaws may have first appeared late in the period. Life had yet to diversify on land. About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth per year during the Ordovician compared with today.