Chinese Scientists Identify Rare Amber Encasing Ancient Sea Animal

Beijing, An international group led by Chinese

scientists identified the first known amber encasing an ancient sea

animal called ammonite about 100 million years ago.

The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy

of Sciences described the 6.08 gram amber, which is 33 mm long, 9.5

mm wide and 29 mm high. The discovery provided a clue to ancient

coastal forest ecology.

While many terrestrial plants and animals are preserved by

amber inclusions, it is rare to find sea life trapped in amber, according

to the study.

The researchers from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and

Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) used X-

ray to obtain high-resolution three-dimensional images of the ammonite

including its convoluted sutures, key features for identifying the


They found that the ammonite is a juvenile one, belonging to a

group of ammonite living about 105 million to 93 million years ago. It is

a rare example of dating of sea animal using amber inclusions.

The shells are all empty with no soft-tissue, revealing that the

organisms were long dead and removed away by the time they were

engulfed by resin.

Sea snails and sea slaters are included by the amber. The

amber also engulfed some terrestrial animals including spiders,

cockroaches, beetles and wasps, most of which would have lived on

the forest floor, according to the study.

According to the researchers, the most likely explanation for the

appearance of both marine and terrestrial organisms within the amber

is that a sandy beach covered with shells was located close to resin-

producing trees, the Chinese Xinhua news reported.

Source: Oman News Agency

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