L'Ambre, Miel de Fortune
et Mémoire de Vie
by Eric Geirnaert.


About the site
Return to the web site Ambre.jaune



I would like to draw your attention to this web site...
and a new book about amber.

      The author, Eric Geirnaert from France, is an amber enthusiast who has been studying amber for 20 years. Eric was the winner of the international contest "Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune" ("The Mystery of the Yellow Room") presented at the First World Congress on Amber Inclusions (Vitoria-Gasteiz 20 - 23 October 1998). The award was the conclusion of a scientific competition that the journal LA RECHERCHE proposed in issue no. 288 of June 1996 : it was requested to explain what was the reason that pushed 88 ants towards the trap of amber. The winning result, that is the hypothesis made by Eric, was published in eleven pages of the issue no. 298 of May 1997. The curriculum of Eric regarding the study of amber includes also the prize obtained in September 2000, at the 18th International Show of Mineralogy of Villeneuve d' Ascq, where he was awarded for the rarest amber inclusion.

      But now talk about the new book : Eric has just finished his work which will be published next May, 2002. The title of the book (in French) is : L'AMBRE, MIEL DE FORTUNE ET MEMOIRE DE VIE (AMBER, HONEY OF FORTUNE AND MEMORY OF LIFE) (Editions du Piat, 180 pages, 220 photos, 24 x 17 cm, ISBN : 2-9513274-3-9). It contains amazing images of inclusions in fossil resins : you will find incredible insects (one is 11-cm long ! ! !), high-definition images of ants, wasps, flies, mosquitoes.

      You will see an ancient seed caught by resin while it was germinating; also presented are inclusions of aquatic animals (such as a shrimp, a polyp, a small freshwater fish) and terrestrial animals (such as a lizard and a snake).

      The book is intended for the general public, but it contains accurate information derived from most specific and new scientific data, as attested by the huge list of references. The volume wants to be also a practical guide for the study of amber; a section is devoted to a simplified recognition of inclusions. Useful suggestions will help the reader to take superb images of inclusions in amber.

      If you wish to have an idea of the content of the book, you may take a look at the web site (http://ambre.jaune.free.fr/) showing a preview of some of the many spectacular photos. By using the mouse (hidden behind the images) you will see many galleries. The discovery of the web site is like a game, and the site should be watched carefully and very slowly.

      By using the mouse over the images you will discover hidden links. An ant which moves, a planet which changes color, an amber which produces light. All these objects are inputs towards new pages. For example, behind the planet and by choosing the small ant, rare images are shown here : best_of
Also you can use the shortcut to these web pages
visu_galerie1 for scorpion and spider presentation, (the scorpion holds a prey in its mandibles) ;
visu_galerie2 for a Colubridae snake ;
visu_galerie3 for other singular aquatic inclusions....
and :
visu_galerie4 for several rare inclusions; for example the presentation of the 11-cm-long insect in a fossil resin. In the same page you will see a specimen of fossil wood from the resin-producing tree that gave a rare kind of French amber. The photo shows even the resin-secreting channels !

      This discovery is single in the world. Being 30 cm long, this specimen constitutes one of the greatest discovery of wood associated with amber. The material comes from an extremely rare site located within the layers of Oise (France) aged 54 - 56 M.A.; the fossil wood shows also the galleries of a xylophagous insect (perhaps a Scolytidae coleopter).

      It is well known that the botanical affinity of amber is very often problematic, since wood associated with the resin is easily lost during fossilization. So discoveries which attest paleobotanical origin of amber are extremely rare.

      The discovery of a portion of the amber-producing tree presented by Eric in the French layers is unique : the amber of Oise is stored in a primary deposit which was not disrupted. However the material remained in a corrosive acidic medium, making the pieces friable. Wood is partially covered with pyrite and fortunately this process stabilized the fragile structure.

      Here you can see about the possibility to extract inclusions from amber or other fossil-subfossil resins in order to study them (a feather of 2 M.A. old) : plume

      You can look at the skin and bones of a lizard gecko, the meal of a bird is eaten by several ants ! cpt_fourmi1

And more, you might see at poster : Great "poster" images !

      Regards to everybody...

      Eugenio Ragazzi

Eugenio Ragazzi, M.D.
Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
Department of Pharmacology and Anaesthesiology
University of Padova
Largo E. Meneghetti, 2
I-35131 Padova (Italy)
Contact e-mail: eugenio.ragazzi@unipd.it

L'Ambre, Miel de Fortune et Mémoire de Vie, by Eric Geirnaert.

L'Ambre, Miel de Fortune
et Mémoire de Vie
by Eric Geirnaert.


      The first impression one has of L'Ambre is that it is copiously illustrated with striking color photographs of insects and other inclusions in amber. Then comes the realization that all the text is in French. But even a non French-reading person such as myself can glean much of the meaning, since many of the nouns are recognizable and the photographs and illustrations are of considerable aid.

      The book begins by defining amber and differentiating it from copal or more recent and, as yet, undistilled resin. One section discusses human interest in amber and shows ancient artifacts that our early European relatives carved from it. Photographing amber and its inclusions is demonstrated nicely, and spotting amber fakes, especially those with insect or other inclusions, is discussed.

      Author Eric Geirnaert follows the history of amber collecting from nineteen countries or famous localities, including the Baltic area, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. (Did you know that twelve states have yielded amber?) Another section on the classification of insects is probably too short. Anyone who has attempted this laborious task can appreciate the pitfalls of fossil insect identifications, even those preserved in three dimensions. Still, a table showing the relative percentages of insect orders and other inclusions from nine major localities is informative.

      One of the most remarkable and visually striking sections deals with a limited number of insects that have retained not only the pigmented patterns on their wings and elytra, but also their (presumably) original colors. Featured here are several varieties of Coleoptera (beetles) and Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and so on), one spider, and a few other showy critters. One of the colorful beetles adorns the cover. Another fascinating section features some apparently rare and probably much-sought-after specimens that contain insects and one set of spiders caught in their final, and thus perpetual, act of procreation.

      L'Ambre is a most entertaining volume, especially for those who can read French. A number of the photographs (of insects or other types of trapped passersby caught in sticky sap) are of subject matter new to me and not shown in the two most popular amber books published in the States. This alone should make the book desirable for those interested in amber or aficionados of fossil insects and spiders.

      Richard Dayvault

Rocks & Minerals, July-August, 2004
by Richard Dayvault

Grand Junction, Colorado
© 2004 Heldref Publications
© 2004 Gale Group


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