Scientists have discovered an ancient insect inside gemstone
Usually the fragments of extinct flora and fauna found in amber, the fossilized resin of ancient trees. However gemmology Brian Berger was lucky to find the whole insect inside a large opal — and science is unable to say how it got inside.
As we already repeatedly wrote, the black markets of Southeast Asia are a true treasure trove for archaeologists — they sell the amber, which often come across fragments of flora and fauna that have disappeared from the Earth millions of years ago. But last year, gemologist Brian Berger has found something far more rare and amazing.
Purchased the item, as in many others, there is an insect. But it’s not amber — fossilized resin of ancient trees — a real precious opal! The nature of the origin of this mysterious mineral (or rather — “mineraloid”) remains a mystery to scientists.
In his blog post for Entomology Today Berger wrote that “the photographs you can see the whole insect is enclosed in a beautiful cage”.
After careful examination he found it undamaged mouth and even pieces of some of the fibers in the appendages. It may seem that this is another fake. However, the Gemological Institute of America examined the sample and issued a report with a certificate certifying the authenticity of the findings. According to the report, this is a real (i.e., not synthesized artificially), untreated and undamaged precious opal, with a genuine inclusion in the form of an insect.
But how is that possible?
The modern theory about the formation of opals suggest the presence of water with a high content of silica. For example, in Australia, where most opals found in the world, acidic groundwaters leach silica from the rocks. When the pH of the solution again stabiliziruemost, silica is deposited in rock crevices and other cavities. They also include pockets which are formed by the impact of acidic water on calcium carbonate in ancient bones — so we get “opalinereverie” fossils.
In Indonesia, where Berger got his unique sample, a large part of the opals is volcanic in origin — they are formed during the cooling of volcanic fluids. Water in the melt drains down and, like sedimentary Opala, puts the silica in the cracks.
As you can see, in both cases, a hollow hole. And amber is not a cavity.
Geologist Ben McHenry notes that “it may seem strange, but the process of amberization (amber formation) is largely similar to the process of opalization”. He suggested that one of the ways that you could form an opal may have any relation to opalisrobot tree in Indonesia find many such objects. And since wood is a natural source of amber resin with insects could drain into some deep fissure in the trunk before the trunk became opal.
However, while it is only one of the theories. Let’s not forget about what’s inside the opal somehow managed to preserve perfectly the insect. To become stone, amber takes millions of years (most of the substance that is sold as amber is actually “digging”, something between amber and conventional resin). In addition, the most impressive opals need time to form, and thus an insect, is very ancient — probably one of the oldest known today.