Amber Jewelry: A Conversation Piece for Creation Evidence | The Institute for Creation Research
Amber Jewelry: A Conversation Piece for Creation Evidence

Amber has been prized for centuries for its beauty. Some specimens have dazzling colors, like a cache recently discovered at Cape York in far northern Australia. Insects, diatoms, a lizard leg, fruits, and even mammal hairs have been found trapped inside these gems. Amber is often represented as being millions of years old, but clear evidence points to its recent and rapid origin.

Nodules that are chemically the same as "ancient" ambers form today from tree resin. Resin is different from sap, which transports nutrients. When certain trees are wounded, resin is extruded as a viscous liquid and hardens according to well-known chemical reactions that do not take millions of years. Resins are part of trees' immune systems and, in addition to their ability to quickly "coagulate," their constituent chemicals are known to combat fungi and bacteria.

In the study of the Australian amber, investigator Suzanne Hand of the University of New South Wales said that, like many ambers used as jewelry, the "pieces we've looked at have inclusions of beautifully preserved plant and animal remains that were trapped in the resin before it hardened."1

If it took very long for the resin to harden, then the trapped insects would probably not have been preserved, since over time they would have worked themselves free, been scavenged, or decayed. Indeed, the speed with which resin hardens is what makes it useful as a furniture varnish. It solidifies on trees continually and rapidly. In the form of sandarac or myrrh, for example, hardened pieces are used as incense in Arabia and as medicine by Africans. The same chemicals that comprise the majority of fossil amber, called "resinite," can produce amber in laboratories as well.2

Therefore, if ambers are millions of years old, then they must have been sitting around on earth for all that time after their rapid initial hardening. But if that is the case, according to chemical laws the organic remains trapped inside should have spontaneously decayed by now. So why did a recent press release state that Australian ambers were "from millions of years ago"?1 The report referred to the "beautifully preserved" insects caught in the amber. If these are the remains of insects trapped millions of years ago, why have they not yet become the dilapidated residue that would be expected?3

Amazingly, scores of still-living bacteria have been extracted and identified from insect guts trapped in California ambers.4 These invisible creatures could only have accelerated the decay of the insects.

Just as incredible to those who insist on amber's great age, still-living yeast cells were extracted from amber. A small brewery in Guerneville, California, brewed with them, convinced the cells were somehow preserved for "45 million years."5 But trapped in amber, their metabolic waste should have fatally poisoned them eons ago.

The quality preservation of whole insect bodies shows that amber hardened rapidly and recently. The chemistry of amber formation is known to occur quickly. Microbes trapped in amber could only still be alive if they were trapped recently. Amber is no friend to deep time. That's why amber jewelry could be a great way to start a conversation about the trustworthiness of a plain reading of Genesis.

References

  1. Beale, B. Australian amber is treasure trove of ancient life. University of New South Wales press release, June 17, 2010.
  2. Man-made "amber" is called "synthetic polycommunic acid." See Hatcher, P. G. and D. J. Clifford. 1997. The organic geochemistry of coal: from plant materials to coal. Organic Geochemistry. 27 (5-6): 262.
  3. Insect exoskeletons are made of chitin, and "because of the lability of chitin, chitinous structures are normally considered to have a relatively low preservation potential." Sephton, M. A. et al. 2009. Chemical constitution of a Permian-Triassic disaster species. Geology. 37 (10): 875.
  4. For example, see Cano, R. J and M. K. Borucki. 1995. Revival and identification of bacterial spores in 25- to 40-million-year-old Dominican amber. Science. 268 (5213): 1060-1064.
  5. Thomas, B. '45 Million Year Old' Brewer's Yeast Still Works. ICR News. Posted on icr.org August 17, 2009, accessed June 21, 2010.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: Thomas, B. 2010. Amber Jewelry: A Conversation Piece for Creation Evidence. Acts & Facts. 39 (9): 17.

The Latest
NEWS
'Prehistoric' Paddlefish?
Evolutionists consider the freshwater paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) of the class Actinopterygii to be a prehistoric creature, a primitive bony fish “50...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Earth
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation...

ACTS & FACTS
To the End of the Earth
The book of Acts recounts the apostles’ journeys across the Roman Empire from Jerusalem and Judea “to the end of the earth,” preaching...

APOLOGETICS
Lightning, Soil Bacteria, and God’s Providence
Nitrogen is vital for human survival, yet few appreciate how lightning and soil bacteria contribute to Earth’s nitrogen cycle. That Earth’s...

ACTS & FACTS
The Bobtail Squid's Living Cloaking Device
Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) live among the sand flats and sea plants of the Hawaiian archipelago. Along with other bobtail squid, these...

ACTS & FACTS
Seeing Distant Starlight in a Young Universe
Many see distant starlight as an unanswerable objection to recent creation. Both creationist and evolutionist astronomers agree that distant galaxies...

ACTS & FACTS
Yellowstone National Park, Part 2: Canyons and Catastrophe
by Tim Clarey, Ph.D., and Brian Thomas, Ph.D.* About three million visitors tour Yellowstone National Park’s 3,440 square miles each year.1...

ACTS & FACTS
How Did the Bat Get Its Wings?
Where did bats come from? Evolutionists presuppose that some kind of rodent received just the right mutations to over “a few million years”...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Insights into Today’s Violent Mob Mentality
Some scenes from the evening news get etched into our memories. I recall seeing a college professor step outside his building and become suddenly surrounded...

CREATION PODCAST
Are Dinosaurs in the Bible? | The Creation Podcast: Episode 26
If the Bible is true, wouldn't it mention dinosaurs? If God made dinosaurs, when did He make them? Did they live with humans? What ultimately happened...