Apr 6, 2010

-FUPPETS- Loves Amber

The above image is of a 95 MILLION year old piece of fossilized amber taken from an Ethiopian deposit which is the first of it's kind found in the continent of Africa. That would place the animals, pollens, and fungi found in this amber in the Cretaceous Period, a time in our planet Earth's history that saw the rise of flowering plants, and all the other creatures that flowering plants helped to survive.

"Until now, we had discovered virtually no Cretaceous amber sites from the southern hemisphere's Gondwanan supercontinent," says author Paul Nascimbene of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. "Significant Cretaceous amber deposits had been found primarily in North America and Eurasia."
"The first angiosperms, or flowering plants, appeared and diversified in the Cretaceous," says first author Alexander Schmidt of the University of Göttingen in Germany. "Their rise to dominance drastically changed terrestrial ecosystems, and the Ethiopian amber deposit sheds light on this time of change." - ( Science Daily )

No one knows yet what tree produced the saps that made the deposit, but it is definitely sap from what is called an angiosperm, a designation stating that means it is from a flowering plant. Flowering plants have sex. The flowers allow for pollination between sometimes far-separated plants, enabling the mixing of genetic material. The chemical designation for this specific amber deposit is Class 1c, the only such one yet discovered. Other Cretaceous amber deposits that have been discovered are definitively from gymnosperms, or non-flowering plants.

There is always so much to intrigue scientists from various disciplines when amber deposits of this type are discovered. Botanists want to see the pollen, or plant matter. Biologists of various types want to study the trapped animals inside. It is a very inclusive situation, and allows for vast discovery, such as how. . .
. . .team members discovered 30 arthropods that had been trapped in the amber from thirteen families of insects and spiders. These fossils represent some of the earliest African fossil records for a variety of arthropods, including wasps, barklice, moths, beetles, a primitive ant, a rare insect called a zorapteran and a sheet-web weaving spider. Parasitic fungi that lived on the resin-bearing trees were also found, as well as filaments of bacteria and the remains of flowering plants and ferns.

-FUPPETS- loves science. Every answered question leads to dozens of new questions. Our inexhaustible curiosity is matched only by the inexhaustible information to be gathered by us from the Universe.

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