Amber is seen by most people as a gemstone, but it is actually fossil resin aged between thirty and ninety million years old.
Amber is available in four varieties: Blue amber, Dominican amber, Baltic amber and Delatynite. The most valuable of these is the Blue amber. Amber is commonly used in bead making, jewelery and in ornaments.
Amber is also sometimes used in cigar-holders and for the mouth pieces of pipes. The Turks see this usage as valuable so as to avoid the passing of germs when sharing pipes. Amber has been used in ornaments since the Neolithic times and it was used either as an amulet or for medicinal purposes.
Amber can be copied quite easily by using a similar plastic resin. True Baltic amber contains succinic acid and it is a fossil resin. Geology-wise amber is mined in Sambia, within Russia, in the marine glauconitic sand or blue earth. Some pieces of the gem contain preserved insects and occasionally small tree frogs. Amber can also retain parts of plants, insects, spiders, wood, stalacites, and hair.
Amber is generally found within Sambia, and occasionally along the Baltic Sea and North Sea. The gems are collected along the sea shore where they have been washed up from the sea floor, sometimes divers are used to fish Amber from deeper areas. Amber has been used architecturally wise in the creation of the Amber Room in Russia. The Amber Room was a collection of amber panels backed with gold leaves and mirrors that were created for the King of Prussia in 1701 and then handed on to the Tsar Peter the Great. When the Nazis came in 1941 to destroy the building, the panels were hidden and have not been found since. This room has since been recreated in 2003 and is dazzling to see.
About the author - Visit Amberman - Amber Jewelry Wholesale for the world's largest Amber collection.
For fossil formation to take place a series of fortunate events must occur. If any part of the series is missing, we will never see the fossil! In fact, fossilization is a rare occurrence. Nature tends toward recycling. That includes just about everything from plants and animals to rocks and minerals. Let’s narrow it down to just animals for a minute. Animals, dead or alive, are food for other animals. From insects to dinosaurs, an animal could be someone’s lunch! Any part of the animal’s body that isn’t consumed is usually scattered about; leftovers! Just like those leftovers in your fridge, these leftovers make great food for bacteria. In addition, these leftovers are exposed to the elements: sun, rain, and even the soil itself all help to breakdown and decompose the sturdiest of bones, shells and wood. So, if we are ever going to see a fossil, some very specialized events must intervene to ward off the natural process of decomposition. The following is the most common scenario for fossil formation:
How Are Fossils Formed? Death Is The First Step
To start with, an animal or plant must die in water or near enough to fall in shortly after death. The water insulates the remains from many of the elements that contribute to decomposition. An example may be helpful. Let’s say that a trilobite has died of old age on the bottom of the sea. Bacteria consume the soft body parts but leave the hard exoskeleton intact.
How are fossils formed? Step two is Sedimentation
As time passes, sediments bury the exoskeleton. The faster this happens the more likely fossilization will occur. Land and mudslides definitely help. River deltas are also good for quick accumulation of sediments. This further insulates our trilobite from decomposition.
The sediments themselves have a huge influence on how well our trilobite fossil turns out. Very fine-grained particles, like clays, allow more detail in the future fossil. Course sediments, like sand, allow less detail to show. The chemical make up of the sediments also contributes to the future fossil. If iron is present, it may give the rock a reddish color. Phosphates may darken the rock to gray or black. The possibilities are truly endless.
As the sediments continue to pile on, the lower layers become compacted by the weight of the layers on top. Over time, this pressure turns the sediments into rock. If mineral-rich water percolates down through the sediments, the fossilization process has an even better chance of preserving our ancient animal. Some of the minerals stick to the particles of sediment, effectively gluing them together into a solid mass. These minerals make an impact on our original trilobite as well. Over the course of millions of years, they dissolve away the outer shell, sometimes replacing the molecules of exoskeleton with molecules of calcite or other minerals. In time, the entire shell is replaced leaving rock in the exact shape of the trilobite.
As the continental plates move around the earth, crashing into each other, mountains are formed. Former sea floors are lifted up and become dry land. This is exactly what has happened to our trilobite. Now a fully formed fossil, our trilobite is buried under hundreds or even thousands of feet of rock! Thanks to the movement of the plates, our trilobite will come closer to the surface and nearer to discovery by some fortunate fossil hunter. Luckily, nothing stays the same.
Erosion at work
Rain, wind, earthquakes, freeze and thaw all work toward erosion. The mountains that were built up are worn away over time. Our fossil trilobite once again sees the light of day! With a little wisdom about where to look and some luck, you may be the first one to find him!
This is the fossilization process known as Permineralization. It is not the only answer to the question: "How Are Fossils Formed?" There are many other ways that fossils can be formed. You can read about them using the links below.
About the author - Claudia Mann is a teacher, and a contributor to fossils-facts-and-finds.com where you can find more answers to the question
We humans seem to have a rather curious obsession with things that happened in the past. At least humans of the age of 18 seem to. One of the best ways to get a glimpse of the way things used to be is through the analysis of fossils. This is where palaeontologists come in. With their expertise, and the help a few well preserved fossils, it's truly amazing the things they can find out about our ancient neighbours.
When palaeontologists first discover a set of fossils or even old bones, they take plenty of photographs and notes. Using the position of the remains can tell a whole lot about how the collection of bones for example will fit together. Bones can tell some interesting things that most of us probably never realized. Markings on a bone can tell where muscles were attached, and can really help palaeontologists flesh out the rest of a dinosaur. On the more obvious side, bones tell a lot about the shape and weight of the animal they belonged to.
Finding fossil footprint of a dinosaur can also reveal a wealth of information. By looking at the spacing of the footprints, a palaeontologists can understand whether a dinosaur walked on two or four feet. It can also tell what kind of gait the animal walked with, and whether it could run or only move slowly along. If there are multiple sets of footprints, then it would suggest, that this particular specie of dinosaur travelled in groups as opposed to going solo.
Examining the dinosaurs teeth and jaw structure not only helps to describe the shape and size of their head, but also says a lot about what kind of food the animal was capable of eating. Fossilized droppings can help here, and if they get really lucky, palaeontologists also will sometimes find an undigested last meal still in the dinosaurs stomach. Yum!
Now while digging through dirt, muck and mud may be appealing to some. There is another way to discover more about our ancient neighbours. One is through living fossils. That's right living fossils. There are some animals still alive today, that look much like they did millions of years ago. Take for example alligators and crocodiles. These friendly fellows are much easier to find than fossils, and are also much easier to observe in their native environments. They just need to be handled a little more cautiously then their ancient preserved brethren.
About the author - If you enjoyed reading about dinosaurs and palaeontologists, you can read more of Chris' articles at biglearningonline.com