Amber isn't always amber-colored; shown here are three pieces of varying shades. Photo by Maya Walters.
|The translucent golden gem known as amber is formed from the resin of ancient trees. Amber is found in many areas of the world, and has different characteristics depending on the region, and therefore the kind of tree, that it originated from. The tree sap that eventually formed amber began as a sticky fluid substance, which covered and trapped any small animals, insects or plants that came into contact with it.|
|Insects are the most common life forms found inside pieces of ancient amber. However, vertebrates including lizards and frogs have also been preserved, and flowers, mushrooms, and feathers have been found as well. Bubbles in pieces of amber hold trapped air and water. Some amber appears cloudy because it contains so many tiny bubbles. When amber has been exposed to air for too long, its color gradually changes from golden to reddish.|
|Only certain species of plants produce sap that can harden into amber. The most common type of amber is found around the Baltic Sea, but no one knows what kind of prehistoric tree this Baltic amber was produced by.|
[insects] [plants] [reptiles] [amphibians] [flowers] [fungi]
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