Millions of years ago, trees oozed with a sticky resin that retained everything that got into it. Freezing, the resins turned into amber and carried the prehistoric moments through millions of years. Animals and plants extracted from amber give us invaluable information about life in ancient times.
What continent do the ants come from, what flower did the ancient bees pollinate, and why can't DNA be extracted from the Jurassic mosquito? All these questions can be fully or partially answered by amber. Although in the famous film by Steven Spielberg, it was amber that gave the answer to the question "why it is possible to extract DNA from a mosquito." It's even a pity that cinema and life are two different things!
It is impossible to extract DNA from a mosquito that has drunk the blood of a dinosaur, no matter what Jurassic Park tells us on this topic. Scientists have tried this trick with insects frozen in a copal, akin to amber, and have failed completely. DNA does not "survive" in a structure that has been stored for 60 to 10,000 years, let alone amber tens of millions of years old?
Sixteen million years ago, a "fellow traveler" - a springtail, clinging to its antennae, clung to the back of an adult mayfly. The couple got into the resin and survived to this day, which surprised scientists a lot. Before that, not a single species of animal was known to use the mayfly as a means of transportation. Perhaps springtails continue this practice today, but they are simply extremely difficult to spot.
The air bubbles preserved in amber made it possible to make an important discovery - in the days of the dinosaurs, the air was much more saturated with oxygen. In the Cretaceous period, 67 million years ago, oxygen was increased by 14%, but during the transition to the Tertiary period, its level dropped significantly. This coincided with the extinction of the dinosaurs - perhaps an oxygen-rich atmosphere was essential for them.
In a piece of amber from Myanmar, 100 million years old, a fossil herb was found, and on it was the psychotropic fungus Palaeoclaviceps parasiticus, similar in effect to ergot. Those. causing hallucinations, severe pain, convulsions and gangrene not only in humans, but also in herbivores. It is possible that dinosaurs ate grass with a fungus, but what effect this was is not fully known.
The haymaker frozen in amber, a close relative of modern spiders, died about 100 million years ago and was almost no different from the modern representatives of his order. If dinosaurs became extinct from the consequences of an asteroid fall 65 million years ago, then the haymakers, apparently, survived the disaster without any problems.
It was believed that the Indian subcontinent broke away from Antarctica 150 million years ago and "drifted" on its own until it came to Asia after another 100 million years. The study of amber has shaken this theory. Over 100 million years, new species should have formed, but all 700 insects and arachnids from Indian amber turned out to be related to fossils from Europe, Australia and the tropics of America.
Initially, North America and South Asia were called the birthplace of ants, since fairly ancient fossils were found only there. The new discovery added another dot - Ethiopia, along with a new species of ant 95 million years old. The oldest insects, spiders, ferns and fungi that existed in the Cretaceous period were also discovered.
Twenty million years ago, a pollen-collecting bee found itself in a resin trap. Carefully studied in 2005, the pollen was identified as orchid pollen. This discovery not only proved that orchids are older than previously thought, but older than all other flowering plants.
In two pieces of amber bought from a market in Burma, scientists have found the surviving remains of feathery wings - 100 million years old. Perhaps they belonged to the Enanciornis, one of the most ancient birds. Before that, only feather prints were found in amber. Judging by the break in one of the pieces, there was a part of the amber with a whole bird frozen in it, but it was lost forever.
It is one thing to find feathers from ancient birds, and another to find feathers from flightless dinosaurs. But they were the ones that were found in amber from Alberta 80 million years old, and in almost all forms of development - from wool to feathers. They weren't designed to fly, but rather to swim. And yes, they covered many of the dinosaurs we know, even those we never thought of that way.
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