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, 105 (45), 17426-9

Evidence for Marine Microfossils From Amber

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Evidence for Marine Microfossils From Amber

Vincent Girard et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Abstract

Amber usually contains inclusions of terrestrial and rarely limnetic organisms that were embedded in the places were they lived in the amber forests. Therefore, it has been supposed that amber could not have preserved marine organisms. Here, we report the discovery amber-preserved marine microfossils. Diverse marine diatoms as well as radiolarians, sponge spicules, a foraminifer, and a spine of a larval echinoderm were found in Late Albian and Early Cenomanian amber samples of southwestern France. The highly fossiliferous resin samples solidified approximately 100 million years ago on the floor of coastal mixed forests dominated by conifers. The amber forests of southwestern France grew directly along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and were influenced by the nearby sea: shells and remnants of marine organisms were probably introduced by wind, spray, or high tide from the beach or the sea onto the resin flows.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Geological map of Charentes (southwestern France) showing both mid-Cretaceous amber localities with marine microfossils.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Marine diatoms preserved in the mid-Cretaceous amber of southwestern France. (A) Diatom genus Hemiaulus [National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) ARC263.9]. (B) An 18-cell chain of Stephanopyxis (arrows; collection Géosciences Rennes BUZ1.1). (C) Centric diatom attached to organic debris (MNHN ARC115.19). (D) Centric diatom morphologically close to the genus Syndetocytis (MNHN ARC115.22). (E) Centric diatom belonging to Thalassiosirales (MNHN ARC115.13). (Scale bar: B, 100 μm; A, C, and E, 20 μm; and D, 5 μm.)
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Diverse marine microfossils from mid-Cretaceous amber of southwestern France. (A) Foraminifer (MNHN ARC115.1). (B) Radiolarian (MNHN ARC115.20). (C) Larval spine of a sea urchin (MNHN ARC115.24). (Scale bar: 10 μm.)
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.
Spicules of demonsponges from mid-Cretaceous amber of southwestern France. (A) Slightly curved oxea (MNHN ARC226.36). (B) Acanthostyle with a central canal (MNHN ARC115.12). (C) Spiny acanthostyle (MNHN ARC115.26). (D) Tetraxone calthrops (ARC60). (E) Microsclere (strepaster, ARC115.2). (Scale bar: A, 50 μm; B and C, 15 μm; and D and E, 5 μm.)
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.
A possible modern analogue of the Cretaceous amber forest of southwestern France: a coastal forest of Araucaria columnaris at Maré, New Caledonia. Shells and remnants of marine microorganisms can be introduced by wind, spray, or high tide from the beach or seawater onto the resin flows in the nearby woods.

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