Copal from prehistoric Madagascar. Within the once flowing tree resin the insect and fauna inclusions are diverse, from flying ant, to beetles, fruit flies and what appears to be a large hairy leg of an arachnid. Work identifying the genera of insect life has to be yet determined and classified. The arachnid could have possibly narrowly escaped at the loss of one limb, we shall never know now. However leaving a record for us of its presence. Also and very interestingly are the inclusions of the insect waste, the faeces from the insects, flies and termites as they must have become incarcerated or tracked across the sticky sap in a vein attempt of escape.
Naturally petrified within copal, the insect life having been trapped on excreted sap, which seeped from ancient trees of tropical jungles of Madagascar, the exotic island which now lies in the Indian ocean 250 miles off the coast of south eastern Africa. Madagascar developed in isolation a unique flora and fauna over the millennia, much of which remains peculiar to the island. Most copal discovered in the Southern Hemisphere, in South America and Southern parts of Africa are considered to be under 65,000 years old. As carbon dating is not considered accurate normally over 50,000 years it is presently considered difficult to date these petrified and fossilised specimens, therefore until further research is published, presently these fossilised tree resins are somewhat scientifically undeterminable.
The only way scientists can date ambers and copal is by the location of the deposit. In which fossil strata they are found in, by dating this layer we can date the specimen fossil. However if the deposited formation or sediments containing the fossil copal was deposited, then eroded at a later date and re-deposited it could be much older. Similarly there is now way of knowing when the ambers were first deposited, so again they could be much older. We can only date the fossil ambers and copal to the fossil layer it is lately found within. We often determine many of our specimens and inclusions of flora and fauna with the aid of the reference works particularly of Mr Andrew Ross’s, works, books and publications. Also we have had personal identifications carried in his department. Mr Ross started curating the amber collection at the department of palaeontology at the Natural History Museum, London in nineteen ninety three.