We are discovering some truly awesome things about the past every day. For instance, a tiny discovery has baffled scientists because of its seemingly impossible feature. A small squid-like mollusk has just been found in an ancient amber where it is surrounded by land insects.
Scientists found the ammonite, an extinct squid ancestor that lived during ancient times, in the tiny piece of Burmese amber. The amber itself is only three centimeters long but is 100 million years old, suggesting that the ammonite is so much older. Nevertheless, the specimen is the first marine mollusk, or any marine animal, found in amber.
The tiny marine creature was initially thought to be a land snail.
Interestingly, the amber itself has some strange history. It surfaced when a Chinese collector purchased it from a seller that identified the ammonite as a land snail. However, the “snail” turned out to be something truly remarkable.
So what is so amazing about an ammonite in amber? Amber comes from the fossilization of plant resin found on land trees. The ammonite lives in the oceans. Finding a marine animal in amber is almost impossible yet the ammonite proves it could actually happen.
Despite its unusual preservation, the ammonite had suffered a lot of damage before ending up in amber. The scientists have pointed out that specimen “had lost at least a 60° sector of its body chamber, indicating that this was not the shell of a live individual.” Its soft parts appear to be missing, indicating it was a dead shell.
Scientists have several theories about how the ammonite ended up in amber.
But how did it end up in amber? Scientists don’t have the answer quite yet but they do have several theories.
“The exceptional occurrence of macroscopic marine macrofossils in the resin suggests that the amber forest was growing close to a coast, possibly next to a beach, and could have been subjected to exceptional events. The shells may record an exceptionally high, perhaps storm-generated tide, or even a tsunami or other high-energy event. Alternatively, and more likely, the resin fell to the beach from coastal trees, picking up terrestrial arthropods and beach shells and, exceptionally, surviving the high-energy beach environment to be preserved as amber.”
It’s definitely a cool find and its discovery might prove that scientists could come across similar specimens in the future.
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