, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 536–542 | Cite as

The range of life in amber: significance and implications in DNA studies

  • G. O. PoinarJr.
Multi-Author Reviews


A survey of the major fossiliferous amber deposits is provided, including ages and various categories of life forms reported from each. The frequence of occurrence of the major groups of plants and animals in these amber deposits is also given. Thus far, DNA from four insect and one plant species has been extracted from amber fossils. In the case of the stingless bee in Dominican amber, evidence of reproducibility is provided, since two independent laboratories isolated DNA from six or more different specimens of the same insect.

Amber sources for DNA studies are listed together with their advantages and disadvantages. The important points are the availability of desired pieces, the proper identification of the fossil, verification of the amber deposit, the cost involved, and the feasibility of causing damage to the specimen. The availability of several types of amber (Mexican, Dominican, Baltic, Chinese, Canadian, Siberian and Lebanese) at four major sources (academic collections, commercial dealers, private collections and amber mines) is discussed. The scientific implications of obtaining DNA from amber inclusions are presented.

Key words

Life forms in amber amber sources DNA studies with amber organisms 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. O. PoinarJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Natural ResourcesUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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