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Introduction

Amber is one of the great natural treasures of Lebanon. The scientific importance of Lebanese amber lies in its great age. This amber dates back to the Early Cretaceous and contains the oldest known arthropods of any fossilized resin deposit. These now extinct organisms lived in a forest different from any in existence today, long before the land known as Lebanon reached the Mediterranean Sea. The resin-producing woods originated in the southern hemisphere when Lebanon was part of the great continent of Gondwanaland.

Lebanese amber was formed in a tropical-subtropical forest consisting predominately of kauri pines, cycads, and ferns and dominated by reptiles including dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

This sylvan habitat contained some of the earliest flowering plants (Angiosperms), which had begun to usurp the dominating gymnosperms and spore-bearing plants. Lebanese amber may therefore hold answers to many questions about the origin of these higher plants.

All of the fossils thus far described from Lebanese amber are extinct at the species level; most are extinct at the genus level, but the majority belong to extant families. The present work includes four phyla and six classes, with insect representatives of fifteen orders, twenty-nine families, fifty-six genera, and sixty-nine species. The striking cases of four insect genera from Lebanese amber still extant today represent the longest generic lineages of any land animals.

the Early Cretaceous amber beds in Lebanon cross over the boundaries of this small country into neighboring areas. This is why these deposits are sometimes known as "Middle East," "Near East," or "Levantine" amber. However, since the vast majority of fossiliferous material so far collected and studied has come from Lebanon, the deposits are most frequently referred to as Lebanese amber.

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