Episode 3: Amber and Copal

amber fossil
Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fossil_ant_(Hymenoptera,_Formicidae)_in_Baltic_amber._Age_50_Mill._years_(the_Lower_Eocene).JPG

For episode 3 of the On the FOSSIL Record podcast, we were inspired by some of the very impressive recent finds in amber. If you haven’t already, please check out episode 2 where we looked at the Cambrian Explosion and episode 1 where we discussed some of Dean’s recent research on Protoichthyosaurus. We also recently released the first OtFR podcast video, in which we went searching for Carboniferous fossils in Doncaster, England.

You can listen to the episode below, as well as on our PodBean page and on the main podcast hosting sites, including Google Podcasts, iTunes, and Spotify. And please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


In episode 3, Dean referenced the film One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missingwhich we’re sure everyone will be rushing to watch.


You can learn about amber through some issues of Deposits Magazinecheck out the recent issue (#57) which has an article on fossil spiders in Baltic amber, along with issues #46, #33, #27, #19, #18, #11, #10 and #2, whilst issue #31 has an article on sub-fossils in copal co-authored by Dr David Penney. And we recommend checking out the books of David Penney, published by his own company Siri Scientific Press, several of which are about amber and include some stunning photographs, you can find those here, and we specifically mentioned Amber Palaeobiology, which can be found here.

Around the time we recorded this episode, a lot of information came to light about the ethical situation regarding the amber mines of Myanmar, something we were relatively unaware of at the time or we might have discussed it in more detail. It is well worth reading about.

If you’d like to check out the papers of some of the research we mentioned (sadly they are mostly behind paywalls) you can read about the dinosaur tail here, the bird fossils we discussed here and here, the astonishing ammonite here, and the headless snake here. And you may also want to read about how ticks parasitised dinosaur feathers, here.

Jason has also since found out that there are examples of insects in amber with fungi fruiting bodies emerging from their own bodies. Not Cordyceps or Ophiocordyceps as this one is Stigmatomyces, but spectacular nonetheless.

As for that fossil with amber in its stomach, you can read about it here.

We briefly touched on whether you can get dinosaur DNA from amber, for a more in-depth look at DNA in fossils, check out PBS Eons’ very informative video Can We Get DNA From Fossils? And David Penney’s research on trying to extract DNA from copal can be read here.

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