Unchanged amber microbes reported in Nature, vol 444, p835, 14 December 2006. Italian scientists have examined droplets of amber from the largest known deposit of Triassic amber in the Dolomites of northern Italy. They describe their findings: “Here we describe 220 million-year-old droplets of amber containing bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoans that are assignable to extant genera. These inclusions provide insight into the evolution and palaeoecology of Lower Mesozoic micro-organisms: it seems that the basal levels of food webs of terrestrial communities (biocoenoses) have undergone little or no morphological change from the Triassic to the Recent.”

Editorial Comment: What the scientists really mean is the micro-organisms that were living when this amber was formed are the same as micro-organisms that are alive today. If the amber really was 220 million years old, this study would only prove that microbes have multiplied after their kind in a most spectacular way, and they haven’t evolved into anything else. It also raises the interesting question of what algae, fungi, bacteria and protozoans were all doing up a tree to be quickly entombed in amber which is fossilized tree sap. (Ref. preservation, ecology, resin)

Evidence News 9 February 2007