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Identification of Carboniferous (320 Million Years Old) Class Ic Amber

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 132-134
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177539

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Extra Ancient Amber

Amber is fossilized tree resin, typically produced by trees in response to an injury. Most amber is Mesozoic or Cenozoic in age (dating back as far as 250 million years ago), and the most common class, produced primarily by angiosperms, is formed from distinct complex polyterpenoids. Bray and Anderson (p. 132; see the Perspective by Grimaldi) now find that amber from the Carboniferous, dating to more than 300 million years ago, long before the evolution of angiosperms, has a similar chemistry. Thus, the biosynthetic mechanism for producing complex ambers evolved long before the appearance of flowering plants.

  • * Present address: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109, Australia.

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