MUSEUM OF AMBER INCLUSIONSDepartment of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology
ul. Wita Stwosza 59, 80-308 Gdańsk
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  • Inclusion (infix) is a term often found in amber descriptions, but what does this name conceal? Inclusion is most often associated with a plant or animal enclosed in the middle, and with a high price of a lump. However, not always this association is correct. Inclusion is something that is inside amber – it can be a plant, an animal, an organic debris, but also a drop of water or air. Inclusion is simply whatever, that naturally is trapped in liquid resin. Inclusion can be air bubbles or covered with pyrite husks. Inclusions can be divided into inorganic – pyrite, water, air bubbles, etc. and organic – plants, animals or their remains.

    The interest of researchers is induced by organic inclusions – fossils preserved in fossil resin. In contrast to fossils in the sediments, these in amber are often preserved in an ideal three-dimensional form and can be thoroughly inspected. The age of inclusion is determined on the basis of amber in which they are preserved – in the case of Baltic amber it is about 45 million years old. The oldest amber, from which inclusions were described, is located in the Alpine Dolomites and is about 230 million years old. The mosquito – the hero of the first part of Jurassic Park should be found in the Cretaceous ambers, e.g. Lebanese, Taimyrian or Burmese amber.

    The resin flowing from the trees was a specific, sticky trap that worked like sticky trap, lava, drop and puddle. This versatile way of doing so allows you to imprison animals with different motor activity and environments. However, the amber trap on one side was versatile but on the other very selective. Animals or plants to sink in the resin had to be of negligible size, be a resident or at least visit the amber forest and be able to contact with a sticky resin. They also had to stay in this resin – not to escape from it, not to be eaten when entrapped sticky trap, not to rot away and crumble, before the dead insect carcass would be covered with another layer of resin.

    The selection also worked in the later stages of the formation of amber – such a dead organism sunk in a semiliquid resin must first – not be destroyed during the transport of lightly hardened resin, second – to survive the fossilisation processes (chemical as well as physical processes during hardening of the resin), thirdly – not to be destroyed during the transport of amber through the glacier. This is not all, there is still a contemporary selection and a lump with this inclusion must be extracted, hit the jewellery workshop and the animal or plant to be noticed and at the same time not destroyed during the amber treatment.

    It is no wonder that in the ateliers of amber-workers the nuggets with inclusions represent only a small percentage of amber. Not every one of them is precious, but each is a unique phenomenon of nature.

    Thanks to inclusions we learn what lived and sometimes even what happened millions of years ago. The method of operation of the amber trap caused the inclusions are dominated by small invertebrates, but their “footprint” in amber also vertebrates left. Plant inclusions are the most common, the small size so-called starry hairs, larger fragments of plants like twigs, leaves or flowers belong to unique findings.

    Is it hard to find inclusion? The answer is yes and no, it all depends on happiness and patience. Sometimes just a handful of amber collected on the beach is enough and you can be the owner of interesting fossils, you have to “just” find them. Inclusion seekers should equip themselves with waterproof emerypaper, with grades 600 and 800, a piece of leather strap or chamois leather, a toothpaste and a magnifying lens. Amber is easy to grind and polish, just mentioned sandpaper and leather with toothpaste is enough for polishing. Then with a magnifying glass or under the stereoscopic microscope you can search for fossils. It still remains the identification of inclusions and it’s probably the most difficult task. In the determination and recognition the pictorial keys for the determination of invertebrates or websites presenting insect inclusions will be helpful. Good luck!