Amber is the result of fossilized tree resin formed through millions of years of exposure to nature's elements and climatic changes. During prehistoric times and from the beginning of humanity, people always thought of amber as having magical powers. Perhaps amber does have magical powers, if we were to relate to all the well-preserved fossils and organic residuals found inside the resin.

Baltic Amber inclusions CockroachLife in amber is various indeed. You can find different species of insects and arachnids or even larger animals forever trapped inside these beautiful gems. Larger organisms, such as scorpions and lizards, were also found in amber, along with full 3D details such as mouth parts, antennae and hairs. Not only were animals preserved, but also plants. Take for example various species of fragile organisms such as nematodes, mushrooms and prehistoric plants that have been so well preserved in amber, but would have been impossible under normal processes of fossilization.

Moving on to ancient times, amber was used in both adornment and merchandise trading. We can even compare amber's road in ancient history with the silk road in ancient China because it had that much significance to people around the Globe. Ancient grave excavation findings show amber amulets dating from 35 000 to 1 800 B.C. Ancient civilizations were also familiar with plant resin's preservative qualities. Take for example the Egyptians. They used resins in the embalming process of their dead. Meanwhile, ancient Greeks used them in wine preservation, while others used amber in fine art and sculpture. Amber was also used for its medical values, and during World War II people used it as a conductor in rockets.

Current times provide a set of different interests in amber. Modern research offers proof that the DNA persisting in amber-trapped organisms can be of good use. George Poinar, for example, provides information regarding what life in amber was like millions of years ago and shows how important the information provided by this wonderful gem is. He managed YEAR ago to extract 130-million-year-old DNA samples from insect specimens, and even though the samples were damaged, enough sequences were provided to identify the species.

So amber lets us know more about the ancient past, its climate, flora and fauna. And for the scientific world, we can say that life in amber gives us a view of the past that was never seen before.



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