phytolith

noun
phy·​to·​lith | \ ˈfī-tə-ˌlith How to pronounce phytolith (audio) \

Definition of phytolith

: a microscopic siliceous particle that is formed by a plant and that is highly resistant to decomposition ancient vegetation revealed by phytoliths

Examples of phytolith in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His team sampled the ancient soil of Olorgesailie Basin for fossilized particles of plant tissue called phytoliths. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Unstable climate forced early humans to be more social and creative," 18 Mar. 2018 Compared to wild rice varieties, domesticated rice has distinctive phytolith patterns. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Domestic Rice Was Grown in China 9,400 Years Ago," 7 June 2017 But in sifting the soil samples, Ph.D. student Lautaro Hilbert noticed the unusual abundance of rice phytoliths. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, "Rice so nice it was domesticated thrice," 10 Oct. 2017 While acidic soils decompose and destroy the organic matter from rice, including its grains and stems, rice plants produces microscopic bits of silica called phytoliths that form in distinctive patterns in rice leaves. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Domestic Rice Was Grown in China 9,400 Years Ago," 7 June 2017 While acidic soils decompose and destroy the organic matter from rice, including its grains and stems, rice plants produces microscopic bits of silica called phytoliths that form in distinctive patterns in rice leaves. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Domestic Rice Was Grown in China 9,400 Years Ago," 7 June 2017 Phytoliths in modern rice have more than nine fish-scale decorations. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "Rice Was First Grown At Least 9,400 Years Ago," 29 May 2017 Less than a tenth of an ounce of soil might yield thousands of phytoliths, says Dolores Piperno, a phytolith expert at the Smithsonian who was not involved in the study. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "Rice Was First Grown At Least 9,400 Years Ago," 29 May 2017 The team turned their attention to surface patterns on the phytolith which are shaped like fish scales. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "Rice Was First Grown At Least 9,400 Years Ago," 29 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phytolith.' 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 phytolith

1958, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phytolith

phyto- + -lith, probably after New Latin Phytolitharia or German Phytolitharien, a loosely defined taxonomic division covering siliceous vegetable remains

Note: The taxon Phytolitharia/Phytolitharien was introduced by the German microbiologist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795-1876), perhaps first in a series of reports in Bericht über die zur Bekanntmachung geeigneten Verhandlungen der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, aus dem Jahre 1843. Ehrenberg divided the microscopic organisms he found in marine estuary mud into three groups: "siliceous shelled Polygastrica," "calcareous-shelled Polythalmia," and "siliceous vegetable remains, Phytolitharia" (see C.G. Ehrenberg, "On the muddy deposits at the Mouths and Deltas of various rivers in northern Europe, and the infusorial Animalcules found in those deposits," Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, vol. 1 [1845], p. 252).

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The first known use of phytolith was in 1958

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Cite this Entry

“Phytolith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phytolith. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

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