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Chiapas Amber
Simojovel, Chiapas, Mexico
La Quinta Fm./Mazantic Shale (Simojovel Group)
22.8-15 Ma
Specimen (Rough):
Weight: 11.8g
Dimensions: 33x31x17mm
140lm LED
Longwave UV (365nm)
About the Specimen:
A thick, red oxidized layer was formed over millions of years through oxidation during the amber's burial. The blue-green fluorescence is due to exposure of the amber's hydrocarbons to UV wavelengths in the LED light. There are numerous fossil barnacles and barnacle scars, coating the exterior of the specimen.
The amber of Chiapas has a history of use that dates back to the age of the Maya Empire; amber was traded between different tribes, and sometimes sent as an annual tribute to other nations (i.e., Aztec Empire). It was frequently fashioned into ornaments and jewelry such as necklaces, as well as lip, nose, and ear plugs; living descendants of the Mayan civilization carry on this ancient tradition, and skilled artisans fashion amber into similar jewelry, and sculptures of intricate detail.
Botanical Source:
Through Carbon-13 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, as well as the presence of fossil leaves and flowers, the source trees of Chiapas amber have been identified as two extinct species belonging to the Hymenaea genus (Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae): H. mexicana and H. allendis; both trees are related to H. protera, which produced Dominican amber. The closest living relative of these three extinct genera is H. verrucosa, which is native to East Africa.
Geology of Deposits:
The Sierra Madre del Sur contains three amber-bearing Formations, beginning at the youngest: Balumtun Sandstone, Mazantic Shale, and La Quinta Fm.; amber is most frequently found in the Mazantic Shale and La Quinta Formations, and is associated with layers of lignite, and found in calcareous marine sandstones, siltstones, and shales. Amber specimens up to 60cm long are known to occur at the Campo La Granja mines.
“Amber From Chiapas: A Gem With History”; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Voices of Mexico, No. 72; Lynneth S. Lowe 2005
“Mexican amber history”; Mayan Copal (website blog), March 29, 2018
“Early Miocene amber inclusions from Mexico reveal antiquity of mangrove-associated copepods”; Scientific Reports, Issue 6; Rony Huys, et. al. 2016
“Hymenaea mexicana sp. nov. (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) from Mexican amber indicates Old World connections”; Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, Issue 139, pp. 125-132; George Poinar Jr., Alex E. Brown 2002


© Kaegen Lau
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Fossil Amber and Copal: Worldwide Localities

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