Fossilized Insects Revealed in 3-D Scans

| 6 Comments

The latest issue (July/August, 2009) of Discover Magazine had a handful of splendid articles, but what really caught my eye was a remarkably detailed image of a 100-million-year-old wasp that had been fossilized inside an opaque piece of amber (p. 39). I could not find the picture on the Discover website, but I easily tracked it to here, where you may see it along with a number of other images.

According to the Discover article, Paul Tafforeau and colleagues at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility used a beam of x-rays to probe the interiors of bits of amber that are opaque to visible light. They found hundreds of fossilized beetles, ants, wasps, flies, and bits of plants, and made tomograms (or 3-dimensional reconstructions) of some of them. None of the trapped insects was bigger than a few millimeters, presumably because larger insects were not so easily trapped by the resin.

Discover notes that the team found more than 600 insects, none of which appears to be a modern species. It is not clear how many different species those insects represent, but Tafforeau says, “Each scan is a new discovery,” so I infer that they have discovered a great many new, ancient species - and that is among small insects only.

If you believe, with Lucretius and certain of our creationist colleagues, that species are not born but only die out, then all I can say is there must have been at one time one helluva lot of species.

6 Comments

Wow! Amazing that they can get so much detail, especially since the density of most of the inclusions can’t be that much different from that of the amber itself. I hope a lot more opaque amber makes its way to the ESRF over the next few years.

I have to ask: Did the Discover article actually specify “insects”? Since a snail, a spider, a millipede, and an isopod are among the images and an acarian (mite/tick) is mentioned in the article at the link, “invertebrates” would seem to be a more inclusive characterization of the first study’s new finds. (Then there’s the second study involving possible dinosaur feathers, which REALLY rocks.)

Did the Discover article actually specify “insects”?

Yes, Discover said “hundreds of other insects, including fossilized beetles, ants, and flies.”

Since a snail, a spider, a millipede, and an isopod are among the images and an acarian (mite/tick) is mentioned in the article at the link, “invertebrates” would seem to be a more inclusive characterization of the first study’s new finds.

Sorry - I should have paid more attention to those images, but I am only an opticist, and I guess I was more interested in the detail and depth of field than anything else.

(Then there’s the second study involving possible dinosaur feathers, which REALLY rocks.)

Yes, I should have mentioned that, but I thought it had been covered on PT already. The gist of the article is that they imaged some feathers embedded in amber and think that they are too primitive to be bird feathers.

Sounds like what would have happened around Krakatau.

Explosive blast strips trees bare, kills insects. Sea rushes in, bringing stirred-up sediment with it. Ash falls.

Of course that must be wrong, ‘cause it’s not in the Book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph

A paragraph […] is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. […]

Dr Andrew Snelling is very nearly as interesting a case as Jonathan Wells. He holds a PhD in geology - his speciality was the mineralisation of uranium salts - and does have a record of publication in peer-reviewed journals, where his papers were not at odds with conventional geology, ie the ages of the strata he examined, the long-accepted explanations of how sedimentary beds were formed, metamorphosed, folded or faulted, intruded upon, and so on. He has never published - and so far as I can ascertain, attempted to publish - anything in peer-reviewed literature that would challenge the conventional geology he discusses.

However, he has not published anything new in the peer-reviewed literature in over twenty years, and has instead produced a series of, I suppose, articles and website essays for creationist blogs and publications, chiefly AiG’s. It would appear that he has always been a YEC, and his professional publications were written from the point of view of conventional geology simply because that would pass peer-review. He really thinks that the Earth was formed about 6000 years ago in one week, and that a mighty world wide flood lasted for a year about 4300 years ago, and that this formed all the geological strata.

Other professional geologists have trenchantly criticised his writings (like the one above), pointing out what appear to me to be obvious errors and illogic. Dr Snelling simply ignores these criticisms, apparently simply because he knows he can. He doesn’t have to produce evidence that his former colleagues can test and verify, only statements from the authority of his academic qualifications that will impress people who read AiG for information.

Truly, the human mind is a wonderful thing, and cognitive dissonance not by any means all that it’s cracked up to be.

I have unpublished a comment by henry concerning

AN AUSTRALIAN FOSSIL INSECT BED RESULTING FROM CATACLYSMIC DESTRUCTION by Andrew A. Snelling

because it has been copied verbatim from another source and therefore infringes someone’s copyright. The comment was originally published yesterday, June 18, at 8:26 p.m. If you like, please summarize Mr. Snelling’s report in your own words and, as Henry J. has suggested, use the Enter key somewhat more frequently.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on June 12, 2009 4:36 PM.

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