A new amber outcrop containing fossils dating back more than 120 million years has been discovered in northern Lebanon.
The discovery was detailed in a paper published on Friday morning in the Palaeoentomology scientific journal by Dr. Sibelle Maksoud, Dr. Dany Azar, and Khaled Taleb.
Amber is fossilized tree resin that sometimes contains well-preserved biological inclusions, such as animal and plant material, dating back millions of years.
The new outcrop was found in a sand quarry in the village of Mechmech, in the Akkar District of North Lebanon, where relatively large pieces of yellow, transparent amber pieces were collected.
According to the paper, 4 fossil insects – 2 opposite-sex flies of the same species, a cockroach larva, and a wasp – were found in the amber fragments that originate from a single amber pebble.
The outcrop dates back to the Barremian (approximately 129 million years – 125 million years ago) and is chemically similar to previously discovered Lebanese ambers of similar age.
Notably, the specimen containing the female fly was found divided into 2 parts as a result of being naturally stretched.
The stretching, the paper hypothesizes, is probably the result of a forest fire that melted the resin. The presence of soot and wood fragments in the stretched specimen and in other specimens supports this hypothesis.
It’s also worth noting that this outcrop is “the most septentrional outcrop with fossil biological inclusions like insects,” Dr. Dany Azar tells The961.
“We have already discovered 24 other outcrops with biological inclusions distributed all over Lebanon,” explains the Lebanese University professor, who heads the International Palaeontomological Society and the Palaeontological and Evolutive Lebanese Association.
So far, 450 amber outcrops have been discovered in Lebanon, of which only 25 gave biological inclusions, according to Dr. Azar.
In light of the discovery, the paper highlights the necessity of the urgent protection of the Mechmech site by the Lebanese authorities, noting that a failure to do so could easily result in the disappearance of the volatile site and its treasures.
*The images used in this article belong to Akkar Trail.