Figure 1.65 Winged angiosperm seeds preserved in amber (Miocene). Bar = 1 cm. (Courtesy G. O. Poinar.)

large number of plants; phytochemistry, infrared spectrophotometry, and X-ray diffraction have proved to be important analytical tools in determining the botanical origins of fossil resins (Langenheim, 2003). Because of its sticky consistency when it was produced by the plant, amber has also served as the fossilizing matrix for other organisms. In addition to pollen grains and other wind-borne microscopic plant parts, small flowers, fungi, a variety of insects (Penalver et al., 2006), and other organisms are often preserved within pieces of amber. Even something as delicate as oil bodies in cells of liverwort leaves (Grolle and Braune, 1988), plant organelles such as chloroplasts and mitochondria (Poinar et al., 1996; Koller et al., 2005), a strand of spider silk (Zschokke, 2003), and amoebae (Schmidt et al., 2004) have been preserved in amber. Poinar (1992) provided an excellent historical account of amber, and the importance of this plant resin in examining the diversity of life preserved in this unique manner, and Grimaldi and Engel (2005) demonstrated the extraordinary preservation and diversity of insects entombed in amber in their comprehensive work, Evolution of the Insects.

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