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Nature
September 20, 2016 | | Poland
A Journey Of An Insect Trapped In Amber

Contrary to what one might expect, life of a black fly is not an easy one. Depending on conditions, adult insects live up to a mere few weeks. It’s not a long time to live a life to the fullest and to pass down one’s genetic material. The hero of our story, a male black fly, is about to fulfill its life’s mission. He is only 9 days old, but has already reached sexual maturity. Sadly, he will soon learn that one can be sometimes blinded by love.

40 million years ago, on a warm Saturday afternoon, everything was going well for the fly. The beautiful Eocene forest smelled enticingly. The male fly was tirelessly searching for his longed-for partner. He finally spotted her on a small tree.

Her wings and chitin shell were seductively glistening in the sun. She was bathing in an unrivalled glow. Blinded by such beauty, the male wasn’t even suspecting he might soon end up in a really sticky situation and get trapped in resin! A larger insect could have had a chance to escape this trap, but the fly was sinking deeper and deeper into the resin trying to free itself, losing its breath and a chance to procreate. On top of that, the female fly already flew away.

Soon the resin with the remains of the insect will travel towards the sea. Some of the “burning rocks” will float on their own in glacial amber river, some will be attached to fragments of collapsed, drifting trees. The black fly trapped in amber will be buried underground for many years, to be mined in the 18th century near Ostrołęka in Poland, 800 km from the place it missed its life opportunity. Next the amber will be processed in Gdańsk to finally be sold many years later for $40. Amber with remainings of flies are much more precious than those without.

The life of the male black fly ended too abruptly. However, we can admire his wonderfully preserved remains in a beautifully polished rock, proudly worn by women of today. Luckily for you, there are no more amber-producing forests anymore and you can easily come to Gdańsk in Poland to buy amber in which you can find a male fly's misery.

 

Photo credit: Amber Pleasure

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