Bees In Fossilized Resin

publication date: Jul 30, 2010
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Bee World Vol.75 (2) 1994 pp.71-77
Article Title

Bees In Fossilized Resin


George Poinar, Jr


Fossilized resin from different areas of the world and from various geological ages has preserved bees in remarkable detail (table 1). In fact, resin is probably the best medium for preservation of not only bees but of all other organisms that become entombed in the sticky material. Fossilized resin can be divided into two general categories: copal and amber. Both originate from plant resin, but differ in age and physical characteristics8. Copal is generally younger than 3-4 million years, has a lower melting point, a greater solubility in organic solvents and is softer than amber. The insects trapped in copal are usually present day species. Amber can be found in deposits extending back to the Carboniferous period but the oldest insect bearing beds are the Middle East amber deposits in Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, which date from the Early Cretaceous (some 120-135 million years ago). Bees occur naturally in both amber and copal, however fakes, where bees have been placed inside fossilized resin, do occur, especially with the softer copal material that can be melted easily.

KeywordsBees, Fossilized resin, Fossilized bees, Amber, Copal
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