Pushing Back Amber Production

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 51-52
DOI: 10.1126/science.1179328

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Amber, the fossilized remains of tree resin, was precious and warm to Neolithic peoples, who gathered it from the cold shores of the Baltic Sea at least 13,000 years ago. Deposits of amber from Lebanon preserved insects trapped in it nearly 130 million years ago. On page 132 of this issue, Bray and Anderson (1) report that plants have been making amber for at least 320 million years. However, the most remarkable aspect of the newly discovered Carboniferous amber is that it has a molecular composition that has been seen only from angiosperms, which appeared much later in the Early Cretaceous.