Friday, December 29, 2006

A mini-Lost World

Scientists analyzing a specimen of amber some 220 million years old have found well-preserved fungi and algae, along with bacteria and other microbes. This find, from Italy, is unusual to begin with, as it's one of the oldest organism-preserving amber specimens ever found. What is most surprising, though, is that the microbes look very much like modern counterparts. Lead investigator Alexander Schmidt of Berlin's Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, reports finding very few or no differences between modern and Triassic specimens. Schmidt concludes, "Although there were big changes in the composition of forests from the Triassic to recent … their microhabitats probably changed little, even during extinction events."

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