Martin Knoll talk about Sewanee’s Baltic amber insect collection

  • on 30 Jan 2014
  • Torian Room, duPont Library

Dr. Martin Knoll, of the Department of Forestry and Geology, will give a talk about Sewanee’s Baltic amber insect collection at the next Friends of the Library meeting. The meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the Torian Room in duPont Library.  A reception will follow the talk.

Amber is a natural fossilized tree resin. It originates from the chemically complex resins produced by conifers; after deposition and burial, resin undergoes prolonged oxidization and polymerization in the presence of sea water to ultimately form amber. Trees extrude resin as a means of healing wounds caused by events such as breaking of branches or boring by insects. While resin is extruded animals and plant matter may become trapped in the sticky material to eventually become preserved in the amber. Such fossils are little altered from their original state.

One of the unique features of Baltic amber is the presence of stellate hairs from oak trees. These are small, radially branched growths that cover portions of flowers and leaves. Their presence is often interpreted to indicate resin formation during the spring of the year. The amber formed in a northern German forest during the Eocene Epoch, approximately 50 million years ago.  You can preview the collection here