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Scientists find how amber becomes death trap for watery creatures
Date:10/18/2007

ry of how swimming bugs could have been entombed in sticky sap from high up in a tree but could lead to new information about prehistoric, maybe even Jurassic, swamps, Dilcher said. Studying organisms that were trapped for millions of years in amber may help scientists to recreate prehistoric water ecosystems and learn how these life forms changed over time, he said.

While no one is claiming that the entombed bugs will be brought back to life through genetic splicing, the discovery may give clues about the evolution of microorganisms, he said.

We all think of horses, elephants and people as having changed a great deal through time, he said. Have amoeba and other microscopic organisms changed much? Or have they found a niche or what we call a stasis in which their evolutionary lineage persists for many hundreds of millions of years? We dont have the answers to those questions until we look at the fossil record.

Insects such as bees, spiders, tics and fleas that become embedded in amber have received a great deal of attention because they are so abundant, Dilcher said. Unfortunately, people have overlooked the little things while searching for the big bugs and the flowers in amber, he said.

Microorganisms are important because they form relationships with higher organisms, making them the foundation of the pyramid of life, Dilcher said. To understand more about their evolution adds an important step in our understanding of life itself, he said.

Gene Kritsky, editor of the journal American Entomologist and a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, said Dilcher has performed a great service in answering a question that has long puzzled scientists, the seemingly contradictory aspect of finding aquatic insects in tree resin.

Its been one of the strange things mentioned by biologists and entomologists for decades how do you account for aquatic insects and organisms in what seemed to be an an
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Contact: David Dilcher
dilcher@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-392-1721
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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