Baltic amber, Cenozoic, Russia
Amber is fossilized plant resin. As the name implies, Baltic amber is abundant along the shores of the Baltic Sea, particularly around the Samland Promontory of Russia.
In the early Cenozoic times, forests of the extinct tree Pinus succinifera flourished on a landmass south of the Samland region. During the Oligocene the area was flooded and the resin from the trees was washed out and redeposited in marine sediments in the Samland area. These sediments have been reworked and the amber was subsequently redeposited in areas along the shores of the Baltic Sea. As amber has a low density it can be carried by water and is generally deposited in low energy environments such as lakes, submarine basins, and estuaries.
Around 98% of the Baltic amber biota are flying insects. Diptera, two-winged flying insects, dominate the fauna of the Baltic amber, accounting for approximately half of the organisms. Extremely rare mammal hairs, an almost complete lizard, ants (Fig. 1.8), snails, and bird feathers account for the remaining 2%.
The Baltic amber fossils are important as they show the morphology of flying insects in extremely fine detail and also provide information on the dispersal and development ofthese insects and the climatic conditions in which they lived.
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