Inclusions in Amber

by Manisha G

amber-inclusionsOrganic-flora and fauna of prehistoric times-especially insects inorganic – minerals, liquids and gases.

In 1835 Christian Aycke put forward an unusual sugĀ­gestion regarding amber trees, “Pines succiniferce.” He was of the opinion that the trees must have been in a deceased condition to exude the resin in very excessive quantities. At times, whole portions of the solid wood became entirely transformed into amber fluid. The white opaque amber and the transparent amber often occur together in one piece, either in layers with definite boundaries or each merging into the other in the manner of a mixture of clear and muddy water. (Both poured out or exuded from the tree at the same time).

The resin was in various forms of consistency as is shown by the different shapes called “Petrified Pines.” They were formed from long, tough threads of the resin and were kept in their original shape by a subsequent flow pouring over and enclosing them. These “Pines” must have been produced by a viscous fluid thicker than that which entrapped the small insects such as midges, water moths, ants and termites. These insects were able to work their way into the central part of the fluid after being trapped by resin.

Most of the insects found in their fossillised tombs were in complete form. The degree of preservation was perfect to, such extent that some insects even retained the colour on their wings, and bodies. Some other show the result of their vain death struggles as the fluid enveloped them – e.g. the separate legs and wings lying near the small corpses. Insects attracted by what seemed to be a sweet and sticky drink but proved to be a deadly trap from which there was no escape.

More rarely found than the smaller insects are spiders in amber and many varieties of beetles have been discovered through the study of amber remains.

The investigation of organic remains preserved in amber has therefore proved of great importance in illustrating this particular era of the earths history. A number of insects belonging to quite different species and showing different characteristics from the present day ones.

Many insects have been discovered among the amber fauna. Among those found have been various larvae and caterpillars, bees, ants, flies, earwigs and butterflies and among the non-insects have been found spiders, centipedes and small land snails. Apart from these, the biological materials such as numerous fragments and particles of leaves, flowers and other plant parts and tiny specimen of trees such as beech, ferns and popular oak are seen in the form of inclusions. It is a unique and utterly fascinating aspect of amber that it has provided the means by which scientists have been able to investigate the secrets of the past from the flora and fauna trapped in their fossilised tomb. From all the above features, there is no doubt the amber is one of the finest form of natural preservation material the world has ever known.

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