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The Amber Forest: A Reconstruction of a Vanished World Hardcover – 8 Aug 1999


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Review


Honorable Mention for the 1999 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Biological Science, Association of American Publishers


"[The Poinars] have adroitly used the evidence provided by many small, fossilized objects to piece together a picture of the forest. Their specimens, trapped during life in resin from the forest's dominant algarrobo trees, are preserved in exquisite detail. They buttress their tale with an abundance of riveting photographs of denizens of that ancient forest."--Scientific American



"Conventional paleontologists know dinosaurs and clams far better than they know caterpillars and fleas. The glorious thing about amber [is that it] does gentle justice to bees, wasps, spiders, ants and other fragile, important beings. . . . The results can be so beautiful, so lapidary yet revealing, that amber science might be thought of as the field where paleontology crosses paths with jewelry. . . . [An] amazing jewel box. . . The most intriguing aspect of the book, though, is not its stop-motion portraits of the little things that ran the ancient world, but the questions it raises about what became of them."--David Quammen, The New York Times Book Review



"Animal behavior is the high point of The Amber Forest. . . . Since ants, bees, termites and ticks in these fossils are almost always close relations of organisms alive today, the Poinars are able to say a great deal about the ecology of the long-vanished forest itself."--Jonathan Beard, New Scientist



"[The authors'] descriptions of the interactions among the ancient biota are captivating. The text is richly complemented by 190 photographs and drawings by the authors, many depicting insects frozen in time."--Publishers Weekly



"The authors have studied Dominican amber for many years, and their photographs and detailed drawings illuminate this fascinating summary of the forest's biota and paleoecology."--Science



"The Poinars create for the reader a strangely realistic sense of what it is like to be one millimeter long and living in a forest of litter. . . . This is classic natural history writing. . . with wonderful illustrations, including a section of color plates."--Choice



"The Amber Forest reconstructs [a] 20 million-year-old ecosystem. . . . With more than 200 photographs (most of them in colour) the authors walk the reader through this ancient rainforest."--S. Blair Hedges, Nature



"The great strength of The Amber Forest lies in revealing and explaining the intimate moments in the lives of long-vanished tiny creatures. . . . The reader is constantly drawn to the tiny, the enigmatic, and the unexplained in these rich pages. . . . Even a reader barely interested in the wonder of lost worlds can hardly fail to be moved by such images."--Tim Flannery, The New York Review of Books



"The Poinars are world leaders in the study of amber; their expertise and enthusiasm for amber are evident throughout the book. While very detailed, it is well written and a pleasure to read. The language is clear and scientific concepts are thoroughly explained so that all audiences can enjoy the book."--Sara Lubkin, American Paleontologist



"With more than 200 photographs . . . the authors walk the reader through this ancient rainforest, describing a multitude of ecological interactions."--S. Blair Hedges, Nature



"The Amber Forest is a fine example of how growing numbers of professionals are making detailed scientific subjects interesting and understandable to lay readers. [It] reads like a novel and brings paleoentomolgy to life."--Steve Voynick, Rock & Gem



"The Amber Forest is a stunning book that should appeal to anyone with an interest in entomology, paleobiology, or the ecology of past and present tropical forests."--Science Books and Films

From the Back Cover


"The authors demonstrate great knowledge of many fascinating biological and socioeconomic aspects of amber. They write well and convey their enthusiasm for the subject with skill. The book is engaging and educational."--Peter Grant, Princeton University, author of Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches


"The book provides a clearly written summary of the biota of the Dominican Amber deposits, with a focus upon the insects."--Bruce H. Tiffney, University of California, Santa Barbara


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First Sentence
Step back in time and explore with us a primeval forest that flourished some 15-45 million years ago and then disappeared, leaving testimony of its existence in amber from the Dominican Republic. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa0562d74) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa057cab0) out of 5 stars Bugs, Plants, Frogs in Sap Tip Us to Primeval Jungle 18 Oct. 2004
By Bob Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Millions of years ago, a meat-eating animal snuck through the primeval forest in what is now the Dominican Republic. Taking a short break in the shade of the towering canopy, it sat on some bamboo shoots which broke off in its fur. As the animal continued on its search for its next meal, the shoots began to irritate it. Growling (as I imagine), it rubbed up against an algarrobo tree. Some of the irritating plant fell out, along with one or two of the animal's hairs. These things fell into some resin or sap which exuded from the tree. The sap preserved them perfectly. Later the large drop of sap fell to the ground, was covered by debris which turned to earth, burying the sap completely. It lay there for a million or more years, then the ocean rose, taking the object to the bottom, where it was polished or preserved for more millions of years. Finally, due to the tectonic movements of the earth's plates, the ocean bottom where the (now) amber lay rose up into the mountains of an island. When Europeans arrived there in the tiny fragment of time known as "history" in this whole unbelievable span, they dug out the amber and found the preserved proof of that one moment in an animal's activities a possible 25 million years ago !

Poinar and Poinar have created a fascinating scientific work with their reconstruction of what the forest of that epoch looked like. Using the thousands of examples of plants, seeds, petals, leaves, pollen, insects, and frogs or lizards that fell into the tree sap and were preserved like time capsules, they describe the ancient jungle long before any man trod this earth. They rely on the principle of behaviorial fixity-that is, the idea that species that fill certain ecological niches today did so in the past as well. They describe dozens of strange creatures, mostly insects (because they were abundant and small enough to get trapped often) that inhabit today's tropical forests as well as those in the past. The majority of the book is devoted to describing as many organisms as possible with an enormous number of black and white photographs and line drawings to help your imagination. They also have a whole section of color photographs of the actual amber pieces. At the end there is a short reconstruction (or summary) of the whole vanished forest as well as an interesting discussion of climatic change and the reason for the disappearance of many species between that time and the present. Not being a person with a scientific background, I found all these things excitingly different from my usual reading fare, but the language used-apart from having to deal with such terms as homozygotic, depurination, dehiscent, and phytotelmata, which don't exactly roll off my tongue-is understandable by any educated lay reader. I found THE AMBER FOREST one of the most fascinating books of science that I have ever read and one of the best books in any field that I've read recently. If learning about the symbiosis of plants and insects, parasites and hosts, ants and fungus, in fact all the biological world of a long-gone jungle, has any appeal to you, don't miss this work.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0dee840) out of 5 stars Bob Newman's review explains everything 22 Sept. 2007
By Ryan M. Parr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a phenomenal book which will present a very thorough, and brilliant, "lecture" all in a single book. The hard bound edition is beautiful, and is a book I will probably never sell, it is an excellent book!

It really is like sitting through an Ivy League lecture, though it isn't something many will find too difficult to follow (I hope. . .) It is a rare find.

I should note, most people overlook the hardbound editions, which are often cheaper than paperback :)
HASH(0xa0deefcc) out of 5 stars The Island That Time Forgot! 1 Mar. 2013
By LastRanger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Just south of the Tropic of Cancer lies a chain of islands called the Greater Antilles. There are four islands in the chain: Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba and, the subject of this book, Hispaniola (comprising of Haiti and Dominican Republic). Millions of years ago Hispaniola was, much like today, a tropical paradise with forested slopes and a thriving ecosystem. Within those forests lived species of Algarrobo tree (now extinct in the Greater Antilles) which exuded a kind of sticky resin that, after a time, hardened to form copal (an intermediate stage). During the intervening eons the copal became fossilized to the form we now call amber. Authors George Jr and Roberta Poinar have brought it all together in this amazing book. Between the two of them, the Poinars have spent most of their professional lives studying Entomology and amber inclusions to reconstruct a "vanished world". Roberta is also an electron microscopist and, with the help of some moderne technology, she and George have opened a window into the past. While the Algarrobo resin was still fresh it acted as a perfect litter trap for any kind of plant debris such as: leaves, flowers, pollen, etc. Animal life too found itself stuck in the sticky discharge, to be preserved, along with the plant litter, in minute detail as the resin was slowly transformed into amber. Amber is found in mines though out the world but some of the finest specimens come from the Dominican Republic and are thus named; Dominican Amber. By combining the study of amber inclusions with their knowledge of modern day plants and animals the Poinars have been able to extrapolate many details of this prehistoric world. If we know that certain kinds of termites live in arboreal nests today and we find the same species, or a close relative, in fossil amber then it's a good bet that they had a similar life style. In this well written and visually stunning book the Poinars provide the reader with an extensive list of fossil species as well as a peek into the lives of both modern and extinct life forms. Concepts like: singing caterpillars, extra floral nectaries, ambrosia fungus and tank bromeliads are just a few of many wonders that await you in The Amber Forest.

LastRanger
HASH(0xa057ce4c) out of 5 stars Very Informative 16 Sept. 2013
By gerry brockmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives pictures of insects that were a part of a long ago era. Most look remarkably like today's. I highly recommend it.
2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Belle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book tells of the author's adventures looking for amber as well as facts about it.
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