Thursday, November 25, 2010

Amber and Inclusions

1 in 100 nuggets of Baltic Amber contain an inclusion, that is a piece of plant or animal  that was trapped in the tree resin as it flowed from the trees of the ancient forests.  Scientists love it.  Even as far back as the 6th century BC, scientists were writing about amber and the life within.  It was this petrified evidence of insects and fauna and flora that gave the ancient peoples a clue as to how amber was formed. 

When the Baltic resins flowed from these extinct trees, the forest was much like that of tropical parts of southern Asia.  60 million years ago, the climate in the forests of Northern Europe (extended from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea) was warm and humid with tall trees and a lush undergrowth.  A global warming event lasted from 60 million years ago to 30 million years ago, turning the forest into open countryside.  The amber trees became extinct and scientists today say that amber came from trees with a similarity to what we know as the Monkey Puzzle Tree.  The study of inclusions point to a rich diversity of life at the time amber was formed.  There is a thriving business in the sale of amber containing inclusions.  But buyer beware, there is also a thriving business in manufacturing fake amber inclusions.

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