Science

Sea creatures and land insects found together in ancient amber

Sea creatures and land insects...
Researchers have discovered a piece of amber containing a strange mix of land-dwelling insects and sea creatures
Researchers have discovered a piece of amber containing a strange mix of land-dwelling insects and sea creatures
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The ammonite shell as seen under a microscope (A), and various reconstructions from microtomography
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The ammonite shell as seen under a microscope (A), and various reconstructions from microtomography
Researchers have discovered a piece of amber containing a strange mix of land-dwelling insects and sea creatures
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Researchers have discovered a piece of amber containing a strange mix of land-dwelling insects and sea creatures

Amber can be a veritable treasure trove of ancient animals and insects, but it most commonly captures creatures that lived in forests – understandable, given the stuff starts life as tree sap. But now researchers from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) have found a piece of amber bearing a strange mix of land and sea-dwelling creatures.

Found in northern Myanmar, the amber measures 33 x 9.5 x 29 mm (1.3 x 0.4 x 1.1 in) and weighs just 6.08 g (0.2 oz) – but there's a lot crammed into that tiny space. All up, there are at least 40 individual animals trapped in this amber. Mites are the most common remains, but there are also spiders, millipedes, cockroaches, beetles, flies and wasps. All of these would have been living in and around trees, and are found in amber on a fairly regular basis.

But they were accompanied by some strange bedfellows – sea snails, sea slaters and an ammonite were all found in the piece, too. Marine animals are rare inclusions in amber, for the obvious reason that they don't come into contact with trees all that often.

So how did it happen in this case? The researchers say the most likely story is that the amber was found in a place that was once a coastline, where a shell-littered beach met forest. The flying insects were probably the first victims, getting stuck while the sap was still in the trees on the edge of that forest. The crawling insects were probably next as it flowed down the trunk, and finally onto the beach, where it captured the shells and sea creatures.

The ammonite shell as seen under a microscope (A), and various reconstructions from microtomography
The ammonite shell as seen under a microscope (A), and various reconstructions from microtomography

A vital clue to this story is the fact that the snail and ammonite shells were empty, and no soft tissue was preserved inside. In the case of the ammonite, the outer layer was broken away, and the entrance to the shell was full of sand. That suggests that the shell had been laying on a beach for a long time before the sap entombed it.

This marks the first time an ammonite has been found in a piece of amber, and the shell is so well preserved the researchers were able to identify the species. Using X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scans to take 3D images of the shell's structure, the team determined that the ammonite was a young Puzosia (Bhimaites). From there they were able to confirm an age of about 99 million years.

All kinds of amazing finds have turned up in amber in recent years, including red blood cells, dinosaur feathers, baby snakes, an unknown species of spider with a tail, brand new orders of insects, and even a dinosaur tail, complete with feathers and soft tissue.

The new find was published in the journal PNAS.

Source: Chinese Academy of Science

2 comments
flyerfly
Just another link between a global flood and reality. Just like the giant clam shell (about 3 feet) that was found near my house 100 miles from the ocean and 2000 feet above sea level and was buried more than a dozen feet underground. It was found while excavating. There are so many things in nature that point to a world wide flood but that makes it very awkward for those who don't believe the Bible. Since this was found in China...look up the Chinese character for "boat"...it is a combination of vessel+eight+people (there were eight people in Noah's ark by the way).
Douglas Bennett Rogers
I like the idea that Noah came on a space ship. It is a lot like string theory, in that it incorporates all of the data and can't be tested. The firmament. The time difference. Longevity. Giants. Sudden appearance of technology. Rh negative blood. The dimensions of the Heavenly City. The fountains of the great deep. The lack of rain. The descendants of Cain. The order of creation. And many more!