Amber research

Amber research

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This image is part of the feature 21st Century Machine Shines Light Onto A Fossil World

Credit: PASCAL GOETGHELUCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Amber research. Palaeontologist, Didier Neraudeau, looking at a light microscope monitor showing an insect trapped in amber. Amber is the fossilised resin produced by prehistoric coniferous trees. Many amber pieces contain remnants of insects and plants, known as inclusions, that became trapped when the resin was sticky. In clear amber, the inclusions are visible using an optical microscope, but opaque amber requires a powerful X-ray. Inclusions found in amber often yield previously unknown species of organisms, and can provide clues to environmental conditions. For example, amber may contain semi-aquatic organisms, indicating a nearby lake, river or swamp.

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