I would like to draw your attention to this web
and a new book about amber.
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.
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,
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).
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.
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.
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 :
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
visu_galerie3 for other
singular aquatic inclusions....
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 !
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).
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
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.
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
can look at the skin and bones of a lizard gecko, the
meal of a bird is eaten by several ants ! cpt_fourmi1
more, you might see at poster :
Great "poster" images !
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
L'Ambre, Miel de Fortune et Mémoire de Vie, by Eric
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
& Minerals, July-August, 2004
by Richard Dayvault