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Pupating Butterfly In Baltic Amber!


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I am new to this forum. I'm an evolutionary ecologist, and used to working on living organisms, but this is so well-preserved it might as well be alive!

What I'm nearly sure you're looking at is a fossilized pupating butterfly (chrysalis).

You can see the silk lines it attached to the leaf, as well as much of the leaf itself.

This would be what one would call a "pre-pupa", but it's already starting to look very chrysalis-ish.

It certainly looks papilionid, perhaps lycaenid based on size and morphology?

What strikes me is both the rarity and incredible beauty of this find if it is what I think it is.

Any thoughts??

Is this the only chrysalis known in the fossil record?

It's from Baltic amber, straight from the mines to an collector's hands (and now my own.)

Looking forward to replies.






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That's a very cool piece.

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Do you think it's really a butterfly chrysalis from ca. 50 Mya?

It seems like a practical joke, but there's no joker and I do love butterflies...

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a lot of the extremely amazing amber finds have been faked... just saying.

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The piece is genuine: its collector got it from bulk-mined raw amber and he personally polishes them. It was sold under the suspicion that it most likely was an air bubble, and the rest of the propery IDed inclusions from his collection are excellent quality (and certainly real). I even know the village name where the mine is.

I'm wondering if having studied butterflies skewed me towards spotting it.

Does anyone know of any other true butterfly pupae? It seems like this might be one of the oldest (Miocene) pieces of some pretty rare group of fossils...and I can't imagine anything better-preserved than this thing(?)

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(Last post before any replies, sorry:) What I'm wondering if whether the pupa is likely butterfly. The age and authenticity are both confirmed.

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It may be a pupa or exuvia, but I would be cautious about concluding that it is that of a butterfly.

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Hi Bagheera very interesting specimen thaks for posting :)

I found this link to a pdf showing that there have been other pupa/exuvia found in amber

it describes the pupal exuvia of an anelid case bearing moth in amber from Bitterfield Amber (Eocene)


hope this is of interest to you

Best regard Chris

Edited by ckmerlin
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Thanks, these are great resources.

The pupation is not quite fully complete, and it doesn't seem to be a case but rather the uneclosed pupa itself.

What's interesting is that it's attached itself with silk to a leaf at both ends, and

looks very much like a butterfly late-stage pre pupa just transitioning to full pupa.

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I think checking with lepidopterists familiar with the Northern European region could shed some expert opinion on the inclusion.

Adding to the previous notes of caution, taking a seller's word (in a market with so many manufactured pieces) as to the provenance of a specimen, without other verification, carries a significant risk of inaccuracy.

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