are produced by many trees and other plants; Frankincense of the Bible is one
of these. Peach and Cherry trees produce resins that children often use as chewing
gum. No botanist or paleontologist knows when resins were first produced, but
we know it was probably more than 100 million years ago. They are produced to
heal wounds, just as our blood coagulates to seal injuries.
is no doubt that these resins have been produced continuously since they first
occured. Because they are affected little by the elements, resins are similar
to their original form. Only a few volatile oils are eliminated by time and burial
(e.g., in marine sediments that are 3000 ft. elevation now). We use Canadian Balsam
as the most permanent sealant for cover slips on microscope slides.
no one can presently date these resins by any definitive tests. Because they have
been continuously produced, there are no drastic changes from one geological period
to another. We can infer age, if we know the age of a sedimentary deposit in which
they are found (this would be a minimum, because older material could have been
are those (including several scientists) that insist that the word amber must
be reserved for certain age resins. With such a continuous resin production, and
no clear dating, it could all be called amber. It is a semantic argument, &
those who sell Baltic, Dominican, & Mexican "amber" do not want
to use the term for any that might be more recent. Obviously a commercial bias
is present. They prefer to use the term "copal".
speaking, the Aztec word "copal" is used for all resins! They do not
distinguish the Miocene deposits from southern Mexico from the recent resin collected
for incense today. Therefore it should not be redefined to fit some new arbitrary
definition based on age. It is considered lower class only because of these commercial
have Cretaceous amber (at least 65 million years old) and much Oligocene &
Miocene amber, as well as Pliocene (Africa), and many others. We have no dates
or specific geological information on Colombian amber. Because of it's color and
hardness, we believe it may be Pliocene or Pleistocene (as is some of the Dominican
amber from Cotui). Studies underway may clarify the deposits, but evidence suggests
that there may be varying geological formations & ages.
(depending on the anthropologist's definition thereof) has been on earth only
3-5 million years. Certainly the Olduvai specimens are fossils (both men &
animals) and extremely valuable for study of human evolution. If we assume the
Colombian amber is this recent, it still has extremely important value for those
studying the fossils. Studies of biodiversity, biogeography, ecology, and evolution,
all benefit from the scientific description of these amber fossils.
is relative, the old man said, but old is not necessarily better. To call the
Colombian material anything other than amber is a misnomer! Logically, we should
just call everything "resin", with qualifying adjectives of origin or
geological formation. I doubt that this would be acceptable to most "amber"