I have always been fascinated by the entombed debris inside amber. This snapshot of history, which can date back as far as 320 million years ago, can offer interesting insights about the evolution of insect species. Or in the case of cockroaches, we discover that nothing much has changed. They are still as ugly as ever.
When a tree is damaged it produces resin to seal and disinfect the afflicted area. Resin also acts as a deterrent to stop woodboring insects and spiders from laying their eggs inside the tree.
Insects, along with leaves and flowers, can get caught up in the process and find themselves trapped in the sticky, oozing liquid. Molecular polymerization as a result of high pressures and temperatures produced by overlying sediment, transforms the resin first into copal, which is lighter in colour, then amber. Not all trees produce resin which will eventually turn into amber.
Here are some images of insects and spiders preserved in amber – do you think they have changed much in 40 million years?