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The remains of animals and plants living 600 million years ago can still be admired today perfectly preserved in the form of amber inclusions. Bone remains, fragments of plants, skeletons and shells discovered by paleontologists are the basis for many scientific studies and systemetics of plant and animal species. Insects and organic fragments trapped in amber are perfectly preserved thanks to the resin polymerization process.
For a long time it was thought that only imprinted shapes of insects or animals were preserved, however the detailed studies using electronic microscope showed that internal organs and even blood were also preserved in excellent condition.
In 1982 a sensational scientific paper about amber inclusions was published. The authors described a mosquito trapped in the amber piece found in the remnants of 95 million years old Cretaceous forest discovered at Sarayville, NJ. The mosquito had well-preserved elements of a cell containing fragments of DNA, which captured the imagination of scientist and movie makers and led to the idea that prehistoric animals could be brought back to life. But the studies on the amber inclusions are more likely to give us idea about the habits and menu of animals that used to live in amber forests.
Tiny insects were usually trapped in the resin secreted by trees while performing their life activities. The victims were usually archnids, myriapods and variety of tiny insects living on the trees. The fauna and flora found in amber indicate also the climate and the environment the animals and/or plants used to live in.
Unlike animal inclusions found in transparent amber, the plant inclusions are rather rare. The plant fragments could only get into fresh resin indirectly, either moved by wind on carried by insects of animals. Only pieces of wood and tree bark are the most numerous, while spores, leaves or flowers are just a fraction of one percent of all organic inclusions immersed in amber.
Not all lumps of amber contain organic inclusions. Amber icicles and icicle-like forms are most likely to have animal or plant inclusions. The oldest known inclusions date back to the Early Cretaceous period. The age of the sediments in which they were found is estimated to be around 120 million years.