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Fossil mystery solved?


Paleontologists have long wondered how aquatic creatures such as water beetles end up fossilized in amber, a material derived from hardened tree sap. One exotic suggestion was that the creatures had lived in water-filled clefts in trees, says Alexander R. Schmidt, a biologist at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. However, field tests in a swamp by Schmidt and paleobotanist David L. Dilcher of the University of Florida in Gainesville provide a simpler explanation, Within hours of resin dropping into water from a damaged pine tree, a variety of organisms--including the water beetle shown here--became stuck. The resin solidified when the swamp dried out, the researchers report in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Title Annotation:This Week
Author:Perkins, Sid
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 13, 2007
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