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Amber usually found on Baltic beaches or mined in Sambia are simply fossilized resin of trees described in general as amberpine or Pinus Succinifera. It was widely spread in mixed forests growing 45 millions years ago over continent called Fennoscandia. The fact that very often one can find trunk prints or wood particles inside amber pieces confirms resin origin of amber. Resin is a natural defense system of trees helping them to close up any wounds like damaged trunks or broken branches. It has very well known disinfecting properties, protecting trees against fungi, bacteria and viruses. Resin dripping from wounded trees would be warmed up and clarified by sun and then dried on a tree trapping various insects or plant fragments to create resin icicles with organic inclusions. Form in which resin dried depended on its properties. Very liquid resin would form icicles, while dense material created massive drops. Sometimes resin got trapped inside trunks between layers of wood preserving inside structure of a tree with signs of insects’ everyday life.
Usually amber formed inside trees is milky and opaque. The biggest piece found so far weights ~ 21.5 pounds. It is an in-bark formed specimen rolled by continental glacier traveling in the Pleistocene during last million years.
There is still an ongoing research focused on finding answer to the question: which specific type of tree is the source for Baltic amber , also called succinite. Laboratory analysis of different size bark and wood particles trapped in resin led to a conclusion that there were actually a few species of trees which contributed to the formation of Baltic amber. Group of these trees were called by German scientist – Pinus Succinifera. This particular type of pines produced low volume of wood in comparison to high volume of cork. Resin was produced inside and outside the tree.
Botanical analysis along with spectral measurements of amber samples bring us closer to discovering full truth about Baltic amber genesis. Some researchers see similarity between chemical makeup of succinite and contemporary trees, like e.g. New Zealand kauri trees – Agathis australis form Araucariaceae family. Another question is however, why those trees produced so much resin? Resinosis, condition when trees produce unnatural amount of resin, could be caused by fungi infection or injury. Same symptoms could be caused by sudden climate change or heavy air pollution by volcano ashes.
Baltic amber is very rich in botanical inclusions. These are tiny pieces of plant tissue trapped 45 million years ago in a resin flowing from amber pines. Very rarely one can find tiny organisms like mosses or liverworts. The most numerous angiosperm remains present in Baltic amber are the stellate hair torn off young leaves or leaf buds of oak. Based on morphological analysis, researchers identified 250 species of plants living in amber-bearing forests millions of years ago. Moreover, it was found that plants typical for moderate, tropical and subtropical climate coexisted next to each other.
Today, plants comparable to fossil plants can be found in Africa, America, South-East Asia, China, Indonesia, Japan and Oceania. Millions of years ago rivers flowing through the forests carried whole trees or their fragments filled with resin. Throughout time material deposited in current south Baltic region underwent gradual physical and chemical processes, which produced beautiful amber found today and mostly used for production of unique amber jewelry, in form of earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings or brooches.