Clavate (club-shaped) structures rimming mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber from Myanmar, previously misdiagnosed as fungal sporocarps, are shown to be domichnia (crypts) of martesiine bivalves (Pholadidae: Martesiinae). They are similar in form to Teredolites clavatus Leymerie, 1842 and Gastrochaenolites lapidicus Kelly & Bromley, 1984; however, the former identification is preferable, given that they are martesiine crypts in amber as opposed to a lithic substrate. Cross-cutting relationships between the clavate features and inclusions in the amber demonstrate that the features post-date hardening of the resin. The fills of the crypts are variable, including sand grade sediment of very fine to coarse sand grainsize, and sparry calcite cements. In some cases, the articulated valves of the pholadid bivalve responsible are visible inside the borings. However, one remarkable specimen contains two pairs of articulated shells ‘floating’ in amber, not associated with crypts; an observation that suggests that the resin was still liquid or soft when the bivalves were trapped in the resin. One individual is associated with an irregular sediment-filled feature and shows shell breakage. Formation of a solid rim around a liquid central volume has been documented in subaqueous bodies of resin in modern swamp forests, and argues for a close proximity between the amber-producing trees and a brackish water habitat for the bivalves. The presence of pyrite as thin films and crystal groups within Burmese amber is further consistent with such a depositional environment. Comparison of the size of pholadid body fossils with growth rates of modern equivalents allows the duration of boring activities to be estimated and suggests that small fossil pholadids in Burmese amber became trapped and died within 1–2 weeks of having settled on the resin. Larger examples present within well-formed domichnia formed in hardened resin. Since ‘hardground’ describes early lithified sediment as a substrate and ‘woodground’ describes wood as a substrate, the term ‘amberground’ is used here to described borings in an amber substrate.
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National Museums Scotland
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Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Cambridge University Press
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