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Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2007 Dec 15;68(4):1089-95. Epub 2006 Dec 3.

Raman microspectroscopic studies of amber resins with insect inclusions.

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Chemical and Forensic Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK.


Raman microscope spectra of specimens of Baltic and Mexican amber resins containing insect inclusions have been analysed using near-infrared excitation to assess the potential for discrimination between the keratotic remains of the insects and the terpenoid matrix. For the Mexican amber specimen the insect spectra exhibit evidence of significant protein degradation compared with the insect remains in the Baltic amber specimen. In both cases the Raman spectra of the insect remains are still distinguishable from the amber resins. Despite its better preservation, however, no spectra could be obtained from the inside of the larger insect preserved in the Baltic amber in agreement with the observation that most insect inclusions in amber are hollow. It is noted that the Mexican amber insect is located adjacent to a large gas bubble in the amber matrix, to which the observed degradation of the insect and its poor state of preservation are attributed. It is concluded that Raman spectra of insect inclusions can provide useful information about the chemical composition of the remains and that confocal microscopy is particularly advantageous in this respect.

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