First Cretaceous African amber deposit discovered

This 2013 video is called Canadian Amber, A Snapshot of a Late Cretaceous Forest and its Inhabitants.

A video from Japan which used to be on the Internet used to say about itself:

An 87 million-year-old fossil of a mantis found cocooned in amber in Kuji, Iwate Prefecture, is the oldest mantis discovered in this country, according to the Kuji Amber Museum.

The late-cretaceous fossil was discovered at an excavation site near the museum.

Museum Director Kazuhisa Sasaki found the fossil, which measures about 14 millimeters from the head to the crushed abdomen. Kyoichiro Ueda, the executive curator at the Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History in Kitakyushu, examined the fossil and found a femoral spine at the base of the foreleg that was used to catch prey. The spine is a common characteristic of mantises today.

Ueda said previously discovered cretaceous mantises did not have the spines.

This mantis is likely a newly discovered species, he said. This could be a great discovery that fills a gap in the evolution of the mantis.

From the American Museum of Natural History:

Scientists describe first Cretaceous African amber deposit

April 5, 2010

A description of a 95-million-year-old amber deposit—the first major discovery of its kind from the African continent—is adding new fungus, insects, spiders, nematodes, and even bacteria to an ecosystem that had been shared by dinosaurs. In addition, the amber deposit may provide fresh insights into the rise and diversification of flowering plants during the Cretaceous. The new paper, published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reconstructs an ancient tropical forest uncovered in present-day Ethiopia and is the work of an international team of 20 scientists.

“Until now, we had discovered virtually no Cretaceous amber sites from the southern hemisphere’s Gondwanan supercontinent,” says author Paul Nascimbene of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. “Significant Cretaceous amber deposits had been found primarily in North America and Eurasia.”

“The first angiosperms, or flowering plants, appeared and diversified in the Cretaceous,” says first author Alexander Schmidt of the University of Göttingen in Germany. “Their rise to dominance drastically changed terrestrial ecosystems, and the Ethiopian amber deposit sheds light on this time of change.”

While some of the authors worked on the geological setting and the fossils entombed within the amber, Nascimbene, along with Kenneth Anderson from Southern Illinois University, studied the amber itself. They found that the resin that seeped from these Cretaceous Gondwanan trees is similar chemically to more recent ambers from flowering plants in Miocene deposits found in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The amber’s chemical designation is Class Ic, and it is the only Ic fossil resin discovered thus far from the Cretaceous. All other documented Cretaceous ambers are definitively from non-flowering plants, or gymnosperms.

“The tree that produced the sap is still unknown, but the amber’s chemistry is surprisingly very much like that of a group of more recent New World angiosperms called Hymenaea,” says Nascimbene. “This amber could be from an early angiosperm or a previously-unknown conifer that is quite distinct from the other known Cretaceous amber-producing gymnosperms.”

Other team members discovered 30 arthropods that had been trapped in the amber from thirteen families of insects and spiders. These fossils represent some of the earliest African fossil records for a variety of arthropods, including wasps, barklice, moths, beetles, a primitive ant, a rare insect called a zorapteran, and a sheet-web weaving spider. Parasitic fungi that lived on the resin-bearing trees were also found, as well as filaments of bacteria and the remains of flowering plants and ferns.

Prehistoric mammal hair found in Cretaceous amber: here.

A study led by UNSW scientists has confirmed the discovery of Australia’s most northerly fossil site – deposits of the precious mineral amber that contain a treasure trove of trapped animal and plant remains and even bubbles of air from millions of years ago: here.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 7, 2011) — Surprising new research shows that, contrary to conventional belief, remains of chitin-protein complex — structural materials containing protein and polysaccharide — are present in abundance in fossils of arthropods from the Paleozoic era. Previously the oldest molecular signature of chitin-protein complex was discovered in 25-million-year-old Cenozoic fossils and remnants of structural protein have also been discovered in 80 million-year-old Mesozoic fossils: here.

7 thoughts on “First Cretaceous African amber deposit discovered

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