Ultrastructure of 40-Million-Year-Old Insect Tissue

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Science  05 Mar 1982:
Vol. 215, Issue 4537, pp. 1241-1242
DOI: 10.1126/science.215.4537.1241


Examination of the ultrastructure of preserved tissue in the abdomen of a fossil fly (Mycetophilidae: Diptera) entombed in Baltic amber revealed recognizable cell organelles. Structures that corresponded to muscle fibers, nuclei, ribosomes, lipid droplets, endoplasmic reticulum, and mitochondria were identified with the transmission electron microscope. Preservation was attributed to inert dehydration as well as the presence of compounds in the original sap which functioned as natural fixatives. This evidence of cell organelles in fossilized soft tissues represent an extreme form of mummification since Baltic amber is considered to have formed about 40 million years ago.

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