LAWRENCE LAWRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAWRENCE LAWRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Insects in amber. Unidentified insects fossilized in amber. Amber is a resin that is produced by coniferous trees, which can trap small organisms as it solidifies and hardens. It is used as a gemstone, its value dictated by its age and the quality of the encased organism. Both modern and manufactured amber, where organisms are placed in resin that is then dried in an oven, are available. Amber has been invaluable to the study of palaeontology, as this is one of the few processes by which fossils are preserved complete with all of their soft tissues. Animals preserved in this way include insect species as well as spiders, many of which are now extinct.
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