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Type: Journal article
Title: A new proposal concerning the botanical origin of Baltic amber
Author: Wolfe, Alexander P.
Tappert, Ralf
Muehlenbachs, Karl
Boudreau, Marc
McKellar, Ryan C.
Basinger, James F.
Garrett, Amber
Citation: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 2009; 276(1672):3403-3412
Publisher: Royal Society of London
Issue Date: 2009
ISSN: 0962-8452
School/Discipline: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Statement of
Alexander P. Wolfe, Ralf Tappert, Karlis Muehlenbachs, Marc Boudreau, Ryan C. McKellar, James F. Basinger and Amber Garrett
Abstract: Baltic amber constitutes the largest known deposit of fossil plant resin and the richest repository of fossil insects of any age. Despite a remarkable legacy of archaeological, geochemical and palaeobiological investigation, the botanical origin of this exceptional resource remains controversial. Here, we use taxonomically explicit applications of solid-state Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy, coupled with multivariate clustering and palaeobotanical observations, to propose that conifers of the family Sciadopityaceae, closely allied to the sole extant representative, Sciadopitys verticillata, were involved in the genesis of Baltic amber. The fidelity of FTIR-based chemotaxonomic inferences is upheld by modern–fossil comparisons of resins from additional conifer families and genera (Cupressaceae: Metasequoia; Pinaceae: Pinus and Pseudolarix). Our conclusions challenge hypotheses advocating members of either of the families Araucariaceae or Pinaceae as the primary amber-producing trees and correlate favourably with the progressive demise of subtropical forest biomes from northern Europe as palaeotemperatures cooled following the Eocene climate optimum.
Rights: © 2009 The Royal Society
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0806
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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