|Name: Christine Lipkin
Location: Dominican Republic
Age: Oligocene to Miocene
|Chrysomelid beetle in Dominican Amber. Click on photo for a larger image. Photo courtesy of Derek E. G. Briggs.|
Amber from the Dominican Republic has produced the largest assemblage of fossils from any tropical site. The specimens that have been identified are representative of five kingdoms: Monera, Protista, Fungi, higher plants (Bryophyta, Ptreridophyta, and Angiospermae) and ten animal phyla (Protozoa, Nematoda, Nematomorpha, Rotifera, Mollusca, Annelida, Tardigrada, Onychophora, Arthropoda, and Vertebrata) (Poinar and Poinar, 1999).
Such a wide variety of organisms have been found in Dominican
amber that scientists are able to reconstruct the ancient ecosystem
with amazing intricacy. The extinct life forms can help answer
questions about palaeobiodiversity, palaeobiogeography, and evolution.
The fossils can also tell us about the past climates, insect-plant
interactions, and parasitic relationships (Poinar and Poinar,
There has been a wide range of animals found in amber. The most common animals are insects and spiders. Vertebrates (animals with backbones) are also found in Dominican amber, but are rare (de Queiroz et al., 1998 and Polcyn et al., 2002). Animals such as lizards, frogs, scorpions, large insects, and spiders were strong enough to pull themselves out of the sticky resin and save themselves from being entombed (Ross, 1998). Amber typically traps smaller organisms.
All of the Dominican amber was produced from the extinct Hymenaea protera tree (Poinar, 1991). H. protera is related to the Algarrobo tree, which still grows on the island of Hispaniola. The tree provided food in the form of leaves, pollen, and fruits for a wide range of animals. Fruit and seed remains have been found but are rare. Dilcher et al. (1992) described a fossil flower named Acacia from the Dominican amber.
Section author: Christine Lipkin
Last updated: 28/11/02
Geological setting and age
References and links
This section is part of a Fossil Lagersttten
web site which has been built up as a result of the efforts of
the 2002-3 MSc
Palaeobiology class in the Department of Earth Sciences at
University of Bristol, as part of a course in Scientific Communication.
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1RJ