3
$\begingroup$

I just saw an image of a gecko stuck in amber 58 million years ago. Why don't animals rot when they are trapped in amber? I've seen dry insects whose chitin shells persist for a long time away from water and scavengers, but things with skin rot and dramatically change in appearance in the outside world.

$\endgroup$

closed as off-topic by Communisty, bon, Fred, Semidiurnal Simon, EnergyNumbers Jun 15 '18 at 12:42

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about earth science, within the scope defined in the help center." – Communisty, bon, Fred, Semidiurnal Simon, EnergyNumbers
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I am no expert but conifer pitch/sap has a number of compounds that have anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. Tie that together with the anaerobic conditions being encased in pitch would create and it is not too surprising that they are partially preserved. I would wonder if the pitch might also have desiccant type properties as well. $\endgroup$ – Friddy Jun 7 '18 at 23:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm perplexed regarding the onslaught of votes to close for being off-topic. There are several unclosed questions at this site regarding fossils, and a few regarding amber. Just because a question might be on-topic in another corner of the SE universe does not mean it is off-topic here. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Jun 8 '18 at 16:47
5
$\begingroup$

things need to be exposed to bacteria to rot, amber produces a perfect form fitting seal and has several antimicrobial properties to boot killing off bacteria that is already present. Even microbes trapped in amber become preserved. This makes a lot of sense when you realize the resin evolved to seal injuries in trees if it did not prevent the spread of bacteria it would not work. HOwever preservation in amber is not perfect and the things do degrade, but do so so slowly that more geologically recently deposits have decayed so little is is almost undetectable, the type of resin also matters all resin is not equal and some amber resins preserves better than others.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.