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The Lie: Evolution


Ants in Amber

By Ron C. Calais 1989

Unlike the cold, crystalline gemstones so popular with today' s 'jet-set', amber seems to possess a strangely enduring aura with its warm, resinous lustre. For this reason it has probably always captivated the curiosity and fascination of man.

To the ancient Greeks and Romans, this soft, golden substance was valued so highly that it was available only to nobility. (1) During the Victorian era it was revered by the superstitious for its presumed protective, or 'lucky', powers.

In our modem world of technological marvels, amber is treasured not only for the aesthetic pleasures it brings, but more importantly for its valuable research potential.

As the fossilized resin of ancient conifer trees and leguminous plants, (2) amber is the nearly perfect medium for the preservation of small organisms. A relatively minor portion of the amber mined around the world contains remarkable insect and plant specimens locked away for centuries in tiny transparent, antiseptic 'time capsules'.


Two extraordinary examples of amber inclusions are shown in Figs 1 and 2. These were detected in separate pieces of amber from early (lower) Miocene deposits of the Dominican Republic. Both photographs, illustrating 'frozen behaviour', represent enlargements of worker ants from the subfamily Dolichoderinae, which are in form identical to their modem counterparts and are engaged in activities duplicating those of Holocene ants. (3)

The worker in Fig. 1 is still tenaciously grasping a larva within its jaws, '\'hile that in Fig. 2 is holding a pupa with its mandibles. There is a living tropical ant, Oecophylla, thriving in the jungles of Sri Lanka, which gently squeezes larvae with its jaws to stimulate them into spinning fine threads, which the ant then uses to weave leaves together for nest-building (Fig. 3). Was the ancient Miocene ant, depicted in Fig. 1, employing the same technique when it became entrapped in the then sticky tree resin, sealing off both organisms for ever from the outside world?
As a basis for other numerous scientific studies of amber-entrapped conducted over the past few decades, several vast amber collections from around the world were consulted. These meticulous examinations revealed many additional examples, some totally unexpected, of ant behaviour that has apparently been retained from earliest antiquity. Here are just a few:


Nematodes (roundworms) fossilized while in the process of leaving the abdomens of ants were discovered in a number of Dominican amber samples (4) This interesting symbiotic association - known as 'phoresis' - in which the worms utilize ants as a means of transportation, has remained unchanged after alleged millions of years of geologic time.

Parasitic mites have been observed, under microscopes, attached to the legs of amber-encased ants in the same odd positions as those of living species. (5) Another habit unchanged with time.

Ant fossils from the lower Miocene, which comprised an intact colony, have been reported from the Lake Victoria region of Kenya. (6) The tiny specimens included worker subcastes, pupae and larvae in all stages of development. Polymorphism (7) of the workers was identical to that of the living Oecophylla, an example of which is depicted in Fig. 3.

Lower Oligocene ant forms in Baltic amber (Konigsberg collection) are found preserved with their aphid (plant lice) wards.(8) This unusual practice known as 'tropbobioticism ' - in which ants attend aphids for the sugar content of secreted honey, extends at least into the early Tertiary .

Even more surprising are so-called 'primitive' ants (Sphecomyrma) entombed in amber from a New Jersey clay pit, (9) believed by some myrmecoiogists (10) to be representatives of the earliest eusocial organization known in the Formicoids. This amber dates from the upper Cretaceous, the 'oldest' geological period from which -ants have been found.

These documented cases should prove sufficient to demonstrate that ants have been behaving as ants should, even in the formative stages of their 1lleged mega-evolutionary development. Like so many other aspects of Neo-Darwinian speculation, there appears to be a decided lack of supporting evidence for the social evolution of these industrious, yet inconspicuous, little creatures.

Compare the illustrations above and below which display activities of modern ant species, with the ‘activity fossils’. Paleontologists say that these behaviour patterns seem to have remained unchanged for an alleged 30 million years.


1. The Greek word for amber is 'electrum ',from which our English word 'electricity' is derived. It refers to , the negative electrical charge amber develops when rubbed with a cloth.

2. Mineralogists consider succinite (amber containing succinic acid) as the only tme amber. Other types of amber are termed retinites. Most succinite originates from the area around the Baltic Sea. It is believed to have been extracted oaturally from evergreen trees.

3. On the theoretical 'geologic column', the Holocene epoch denotes that period of alleged pre-histoty comprising the past 10,000 years.

4. George Poinar, ‘Sealed in Amber', Natural history, June, 1982

5. W.M Wheeler, Social Life Among The Insects, Constable & Co., London, 1922.

6. E.O. Wilson and R.W. Taylor, 'A Fossil Ant Colony: New Evidence of Social Antiquity', Psyche, June, 1964.

7. The development of different structural bead forms having the same functions.

8. F.M. CaIpenter, 'The Fossil Ants of North America', Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, January, 1980.

9. E.O. Wilson, ‘The Earliest Known Ants: An Analysis of the Cretaceous Species and an Inference Concerning their Social Organization', Paleobiology, Vol. l3, No.1, 1987.

10. The branch of insect study dealing with the systematic research of ants.

11. A.J. Boucot, ' Does Evolution Take Place in an Ecological Vacuum?', Journal of Paleontology, January, 1983 (Note: See pages 5 and 6 for this glaring error).

12 Wilhelm Goetsch, The Ants, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1957.

ADDITIONAL READING Anyone wishing to pursue this subject further could consult the following books 00 amber aodrelatedsubstances.

Rosa Hunger, The Magic of Amber, Chilton Book Co., Radom; PA, 1979.
Willy Ley, Dragons in Amber, Viking Press, N.Y., 1951.
Patty Rice, Amber-Golden Gem of the Ages, Van Nostrand Reinbold Co., N.Y., 1980.
George Williamson, The Book of Amber, Ernest Benn, London, 1932.

Creation Ex Nihilo Vol. 11, No. 4 1989