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New collection of insects found in prehistoric amber.

Amber deposits in a coal mine in India challenge assumptions about India’s evolution.

Hundreds of prehistoric insects and other creatures have been discovered in a large haul of amber excavated from a coalmine in western India. An international team of fossil hunters recovered 150kg of the dirty brown resin from Cambay Shale in Gujarat province, making it one of the largest amber collections on record. The tiny animals became entombed in the fossilised tree resin some 52m years ago, before the Indian subcontinent crunched into Asia to produce the Himalayan mountain range.

Jes Rust, a paleontologist at Bonn University, said the creatures, including ancient bees, spiders, termites, gnats, ants and flies, were in remarkably good condition considering their age. In total, the team has identified more than 700 arthropods, a group of animals that includes insects, crustaceans and arachnids.

“They are so well preserved. It’s like having the complete dinosaur, not just the bones. You can see all the surface details on their bodies and wings. It’s fantastic,” Rust told the Guardian. The remains of two praying mantises were also found.

More info here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/oct/25/prehistoric-creatures-indian-amber-haul

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