nature's preservative

Organic Flypaper: Amber Gives a Green Light to Study of Ancient Life
People have made jewelry from amber -- hardened tree resin -- since the Egyptian era. And no wonder -- the stuff is beautiful, mysterious, seemingly luminescent.
But amber is much more than just jewelry. To scientists who study ancient life, it's simply the best preservative ever "invented." This issue of The Why Files examines the scientific contributions of nature's preservative.
bee in amber
Bacteria lived in the gut of this ancient bee.
Are the bacteria still alive?

Courtesy Raul Cano.
Start at the beginning! Is amber important?

Could insects trapped in amber contain real, live bacteria?

How old can amber go? The history of historic discoveries in archaic amber.

Resin can repel insects -- or attract them. Excuse me?

Want a definition of amber? (Hint -- so do scientists who study the stuff...)

Factcheckers and credits for this edition.

We've put together a list of readings and web sites on the subject.


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