An ammonite trapped in Burmese amber - NMS Research Repository
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An ammonite trapped in Burmese amber

Abstract

Amber is fossilized tree resin, and inclusions usually comprise terrestrial and, rarely, aquatic organisms. Marine fossils are extremely rare in Cretaceous and Cenozoic ambers. Here, we report a record of an ammonite with marine gastropods, intertidal isopods, and diverse terrestrial arthropods as syninclusions in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. We used X-ray–microcomputed tomography (CT) to obtain high-resolution 3D images of the ammonite, including its sutures, which are diagnostically important for ammonites. The ammonite is a juvenile Puzosia (Bhimaites) and provides supporting evidence for a Late Albian–Early Cenomanian age of the amber. There is a diverse assemblage (at least 40 individuals) of arthropods in this amber sample from both terrestrial and marine habitats, including Isopoda, Acari (mites), Araneae (spiders), Diplopoda (millipedes), and representatives of the insect orders Blattodea (cockroaches), Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (true flies), and Hymenoptera (wasps). The incomplete preservation and lack of soft body of the ammonite and marine gastropods suggest that they were dead and underwent abrasion on the seashore before entombment. It is most likely that the resin fell to the beach from coastal trees, picking up terrestrial arthropods and beach shells and, exceptionally, surviving the high-energy beach environment to be preserved as amber. Our findings not only represent a record of an ammonite in amber but also provide insights into the taphonomy of amber and the paleoecology of Cretaceous amber forests.

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