What is Amber and how does it form?
Once upon a time, amber used to be tree resin. The gloopy resin from the Hymenaea protera tree trickled down into streams and rivers, making its way into the ocean, some 25 million years ago. And there it stayed, down in the deep, deep blue, in among the layers of silt, sand and clay.
Sedimentary rock is made by particles of sand, clay, other rocks which are compacted together under a lot of pressure. Like, on the ocean floor, or buried beneath layers of mud.
Most amber is found inside sedimentary rock, as it was buried and compressed along with other organic material. The resin crystallises over a long time, and forms a hard, compact fossil.
Fossils in Amber
Sometimes, insects and plants from millions of years ago are trapped in the resin and preserved in the lumps of amber. Using these fossils, experts have been able learn about prehistoric ecology.
They have built up a picture of the plants and animals that used to live in a massive, long-lost tropical forest in the DR.
If you’re interested, you can check out the Museo del Ambar Dominicano in Puerto Plata, or the Amber World Museum in Santo Domingo. They have some amazing collections of creatures and plants preserved in amber.
Fossilised amber chunks are pretty valuable, so they make for particularly exciting finds on the beach!