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Amber Preserves Insect Pollen Carriers

from BBC News Online

What may be the earliest direct example of insect pollination has been identified by scientists. The evidence is seen in 100-million-year-old amber blocks from Spain that include tiny invertebrates whose bodies are coated with pollen grains.

The role of insects in fertilising plants was one of the great steps in the evolution of life on Earth. Today, most flowering plants, including many food crops, could not reproduce without the insect transport of pollen.

The discovery is reported in the American journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Science (PNAS). Amber, the fossilised remnant of tree resin, is a wonderful preservation medium, freezing in time the exquisite detail of insects that got caught up in the once sticky mess. The translucent pieces described by the researchers in their PNAS paper come from the Basque Country.

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