A chunk of amber unearthed in Myanmar has perfectly preserved an assembly of ancient creatures from around 100 million years ago.
A team of paleontologists discovered the remains of Cretaceous land-dwelling creatures along with sea creatures.
"It is rare to find aquatic organisms in amber, and it is extremely rare to find marine organisms in amber let alone macroscopic marine organism mixed with intertidal, terrestrial, and potentially freshwater aquatic organisms," the researchers wrote in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Ancient Creatures Trapped In Amber
The chunk of amber contains 22 mites, 12 adult insects (flies, beetles, wasp, cockroach), a goblin spider, and a millipede from the land. From the water, the creatures that were trapped were four sea snails, four intertidal isopods (and three additional possible isopods), and a juvenile marine ammonite.
The ammonite, a marine mollusk, was one of the most unusual finds. This is the first time that paleontologists have unearthed ammonite in amber because the creatures, which were ancient relatives of modern squids and octopuses, were not known to venture to the land.
Trapped In Tree Resin For Millions Of Years
The team suspected that the resin that trapped the ancient creatures came from a tree on the shoreline of Cretaceous Myanmar. It likely picked up the ammonite shell and other sea creatures that tumbled into the land.
"The idea that there's a whole community of organisms in association — that may prove more important in the long run," added David Dilcher, a paleontologist at Indiana University Bloomington and a co-author of the study.
Only the shell of the ammonite was preserved. The team found no signs of soft tissue from the ancient marine mollusk in the fossil.
The researchers, however, are having a hard time pinning how old exactly is the amber. Uranium-lead dating of the volcanic rock from which the piece was collected places it at 98.8 million years old maximum. However, the sandstone layer above the amber contained ammonite, which arrived on scene 113 million years ago but did not live past 100.5 million years ago.
Myanmar in Southeast Asia was proven to be a great destination for paleontologists. In the last year, scientists found frogs, snails, a snake, and bugs that lived around 100 million years ago.