Reconstructing Ancient Landscapes

Every amber fossil tells a story and is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that can be used to reconstruct the natural environment at the time the amber was being produced. The challenges are to identify the inclusions, determine their biology and ecology by researching the habits of their extant descendants, and then make inferences regarding the original environment. There will always be gaps in the puzzle because there are many life-

forms that are too large to become entrapped in amber or have a lifestyle that does not normally bring them into contact with the sticky resin. However, the habitat that existed in that ancient world can, in large part, be reconstructed by studying select insects that can be typified as phytophagous, soil-loving, bark inhabitants, or parasites, and identifying the associated predators, vertebrates, and special habitats.

See Also the Following Articles

Biogeographical Patterns • Fossil Record

Futher Reading

Boucot, A. J. (1990). "Evolutionary Paleobiology of Behavior and

Coevolution." Elsevier, Amsterdam. Poinar, G. O. Jr., (1992). "Life in Amber." Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

Poinar, G. O., Jr., and Milki, R. (2001). "Lebanese Amber. The Oldest Insect Ecosystem in Fossilized Resin." Oregon State University Press, Corvallis. Poinar, G. O., Jr., and Poinar, R. (1994). "The Quest for Life in Amber."

Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA. Poinar, G. O., Jr., and Poinar, R. (1999). "The Amber Forest." Princeton

University Press, Princeton, NJ. Ross, A. (1998). "Amber." Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. Weitschat, W., and Wichard, W. (2002). "Atlas of Plants and Animals in Baltic Amber." Pfeil, Munich.

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