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Oyster Shells in Amber
I thought this would be interesting to this group.
I've recently obtained some Mexican amber that had oyster shells embedded
in them. Yes, that's right, oyster shells. I might of thought they were
fake except for the fact that the amber dealer I've obtained them from was
very reliable and I've dealt with him for a number of years. Still, this
was the first time I've seen or heard of oyster shells in amber. I was
trying to figure out how the shells got into the amber in the first place.
The shells aren't completely embedded in the amber, and are
fossilized. I have one amber piece with three shells, two of them are
partially embedded in the amber, the other is totally out of the amber
but attached on the top. I was running scenarios through my head where
the amber tree was next near some brackish water, and the amber fell
into the water and onto the oysters. However, this is not what happened.
I checked with George Poinar from UC Berkeley on this, and he's seen
oysters and other sea bottom objects embedded in Mexican amber. Apparently,
what happens is that the amber is formed first by being buried for several
million years. Then through geologic changes, the amber is now underneath
a seabed and become exposed (actually this is currently what happens with
Baltic amber in the Baltic Sea). The oysters then come along and burrow
into the amber. Oysters have been known to burrow into solid rock, so should
have no problem burrowing into amber. The oysters then live a normal life
and die with the shells still in the amber. Millions of more years go by and
now the amber is reburied. The fossils in the amber become fossilized.
Geologic forces now bring the amber out of the ocean, where they are then
discovered. Pretty neat, huh?