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Cretaceous African life captured in amber

Abstract : Amber is of great paleontological importance because it preserves a diverse array of organisms and associated remains from different habitats in and close to the amber-producing forests. Therefore, the discovery of amber inclusions is important not only for tracing the evolutionary history of lineages with otherwise poor fossil records, but also for elucidating the composition, diversity, and ecology of terrestrial paleoecosystems. Here, we report a unique find of African amber with inclusions, from the Cretaceous of Ethiopia. Ancient arthropods belonging to the ants, wasps, thrips, zorapterans, and spiders are the earliest African records of these ecologically important groups and constitute significant discoveries providing insight into the temporal and geographical origins of these lineages. Together with diverse microscopic inclusions, these findings reveal the interactions of plants, fungi and arthropods during an epoch of major change in terrestrial ecosystems, which was caused by the initial radiation of the angiosperms. Because of its age, paleogeographic location and the exceptional preservation of the inclusions, this fossil resin broadens our understanding of the ecology of Cretaceous woodlands.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 2:40:19 PM
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A. Schmidt, V. Perrichot, M. Svojtka, K. Anderson, H. Belete, et al.. Cretaceous African life captured in amber. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2010, 107 (16), pp.7329 - 7334. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1000948107⟩. ⟨insu-00600295⟩

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