oto·​lith | \ ˈō-tə-ˌlith How to pronounce otolith (audio) \

Definition of otolith

: a calcareous concretion in the inner ear of a vertebrate or in the otocyst of an invertebrate

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Other Words from otolith

otolithic \ ˌō-​tə-​ˈli-​thik How to pronounce otolithic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of otolith in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For years, scientists have used an inner ear bone called an otolith to estimate the lifespan of fish. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Could Atomic Weapons from the Cold War Save the World's Largest Fish?," 6 Apr. 2020 The oxygen molecules in the fish ear bones, or otoliths, carry a record of life history. Yereth Rosen, Anchorage Daily News, "Retreating Exit Glacier has become an icon of climate change," 4 Aug. 2017 Scientists use the growth structure of otoliths to estimate a fish's age. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Fisherman catches 'a big old fish' weighing 350 pounds off southwest Florida," 12 Jan. 2020 The researchers then used a microscope to count the growth rings on each slice of otolith. Sean Landsman, National Geographic, "112-year-old fish has broken a longevity record," 2 Aug. 2019 Changes to otolith size could affect fish hearing and orientation, researchers say. Elizabeth Preston, Science | AAAS, "A growing sensory smog threatens the ability of fish to communicate, navigate, and survive," 20 June 2019 Under extreme high carbon dioxide conditions, the ocean acidifies, affecting, among other things, the development of a fish’s otoliths, or ear bones. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "What Will Be the Last Fish?," 10 Dec. 2018 In those individuals, Balaban says, further tests implicated damage to the ear's otolith organs, the utricle and the saccule, key to sensing gravity. Richard Stone, Science | AAAS, "Sonic attack or mass paranoia? New evidence stokes debate over diplomats’ mysterious illness," 20 June 2018 Determining a bony fish's age can be easily done by analyzing their otoliths, or ear stones. National Geographic, "272-Year-Old Shark Is Longest-Lived Vertebrate on Earth," 11 Aug. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'otolith.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of otolith

circa 1836, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for otolith

French otolithe, from ot- + -lithe -lith

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Time Traveler for otolith

Time Traveler

The first known use of otolith was circa 1836

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Statistics for otolith

Last Updated

30 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Otolith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otolith. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for otolith


oto·​lith | \ ˈōt-ᵊl-ˌith How to pronounce otolith (audio) \

Medical Definition of otolith

: a calcareous concretion in the inner ear of a vertebrate or in the otocyst of an invertebrate that is especially conspicuous in many bony fishes where it forms a hard body and in most of the higher vertebrates where it is represented by a mass of small calcareous otoconia

called also statolith

Other Words from otolith

otolithic \ ˌōt-​ᵊl-​ˈith-​ik How to pronounce otolithic (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on otolith

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about otolith

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