Jan 12, 2009

Fossilized Amber Kicks Ass Yet Again!

Previously on -FUPPETS-, the incredibly fabulous material known as Amber was discussed and praised, for it's bad-assitude.
Amber is one of the very few fossilized substances (tree sap) that actually prevent the destruction of the organic material trapped inside.
Since sap-bearing trees have been around for a long time, there are a very wide range of animal and plant species catalogued through their preservation in amber. What has not ever been found, is evidence of marine biology, possibly due to the lack of sap-bearing trees found underwater. (ha!)
In the above image, you can see what is actually a very momentous discovery. Read about it below.
For the first time, scientists have unearthed ancient chunks of amber that contain the fossils of marine microorganisms called diatoms. Found in a thick layer of 98-million-year–old rocks in southwestern France, the amber also contains bits of fallen leaves and soil-dwelling organisms, says Vincent Girard, a paleontologist at the University of Rennes 1 in France. He and his colleagues speculate that all of these organisms may have become trapped in tree resin that had dripped to the tide-washed ground in a mangrove-like forest and then hardened.
The amber-entombed diatoms — some as lone cells (top), some linked in chains (bottom) — represent ten genera typically found in coastal shallows, the researchers report in the January Geology. Girard and his team note that the well-preserved remains provide the oldest known occurrence for seven of those genera; in some cases the new find extends the known presence of a diatom genus back nearly 20 million years. ( Sid Perkins - Science News )

Every single bit of Amber that we discover is a rare thing. The conditions for it's creation are very rare indeed. To find specimens of animals and plants in a piece of Amber is even more fortuitous. Can you image being a small bug or a tiny spider or lizard and getting smothered by what appears to you to be a giant wave of sticky tree sap? Insane suffocation. The odds of finding oceanic diatoms, even from areas that were once shallow mangrove swamps, are astronomical.

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