Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Anders Damgaard's Cretaceous Amber Photography

Box 2/3 - New Jersey (Crossman Clay Pit, Sayreville) Cretaceous (Turonian 90-94 MYO) lignite layer - collection of amber, soil, pyrite, wood pieces and fossil plant material. This area is now closed and turned into a construction site.
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

Amber's ability to exquisitely preserve bits of prehistoric ecosystems was forever implanted into the public consciousness by Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novels and their film adaptations. I remember first reading about Ingen's use of blood from insects preserved in amber to clone dinosaurs; I felt a rush of excitement to imagine the organic material locked in chunks of ancient tree resin. While it turns out not to be a totally plausible way to populate an island full of dinosaurs, but to thirteen year old me, it was a striking idea that remains one of the most memorable parts of Jurassic Park for me. "Dino DNA!"

When a piece of amber contains an insect or other piece of the biome, it's called an inclusion. The inclusion photographs in this post are the work of Danish photographer Anders Damgaard, whose website and Flickr stream contain many more examples of his work - the 3-D image on his site is especially cool. They come from his set of New Jersey amber, dating to the Cretaceous period. Enjoy, and be sure to leave some kind words in his photo comments at Flickr.

Cretaceous New Jersey amber (90-94 MYO) - very small mite (Arachnida, Acarina, ...) - less than 0,3 mm
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

Cretaceous New Jersey amber (90-94 MYO) whit huge beetle - Coleoptera, ...?
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

Cretaceous New Jersey amber (90-94 MYO) - extremely rare iconic wasp/ant transitional - body about 1 mm (curled position)
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

Cretaceous New Jersey amber (90-94 MYO) - rare iconic gall mite (Trombidiformes Erythraeidae) - body about 1,2 mm
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

Cretaceous New Jersey amber (90-94 MYO) - perfect coccoidea (scale insect) - body about 1 mm
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

Cretaceous New Jersey amber (90-94 MYO) - sand fly (Phlebotominae) and parasitic mite
Photo © Anders Leth Damgaard

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