Biological Inclusions in Amber from the Paleogene Chickaloon Formation of Alaska

David A. Grimaldi, David Sunderlin, Georgene A. Aaroe, Michelle R. Dempsky, Nancy E. Parker, George Q. Tillery, Jaclyn G. White, Phillip Barden, Paul C. Nascimbene, Christopher J. Williams

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9 Scopus citations


The Chickaloon Formation in south-central Alaska contains rich coal deposits dated very close to the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, immediately beneath which occur dispersed nodules of amber along with abundant remains of Metasequoia, dicots, and monocots. The nodules are small (less than 10 mm in length), nearly 10,000 of which were screened, yielding several inclusions of fungi and plant fragments, but mostly terrestrial arthropods: 29 specimens in 10 orders and 13 families. The fungi include resinicolous hyphae and a dark, multiseptate hyphomycete. Plants include wood/bark fragments and fibers, and the microphylls of a bryophyte (probably a moss, Musci). Among the arthropods are arachnids: mites (Acari: Oribatida), Pseudoscorpionida, and the bodies and a silken cocoon of spiders (Araneae). Insecta include Blattodea, Thysanoptera, Hemiptera (Heteroptera and Aphidoidea), Coleoptera (Dermestidae: Megatominae), Trichoptera, Diptera (Chironomidae: Tanypodinae), and Hymenoptera (Formicidae: Formicinae). Nymphal aphids predominate (65% of the arthropod individuals), which were probably feeding on the source tree, likely Metasequoia. There is a bias in preservation toward small arthropods (mean body length 0.75 mm) that are surface-dwelling (nonwinged) stages and taxa. Chickaloon amber contains the most northerly fossil records of pseudoscorpions, thrips, Dermestidae, and Cenozoic ants and mites, so the deposit is contributing unique data on high-latitude paleodiversity of the Paleogene hothouse earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalAmerican Museum Novitates
Issue number3908
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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