Preservation of the Mexican Amber Collection

The UCMP amber collection is now completely databased. It is available online by searching the UCMP database, iDigBio, GBIF and other data aggregator websites. In early 2016 we discovered that the Chiapas Mexican amber collection had been stored in cardboard microfossil slides in what were substandard conditions causing continued damage to the specimens if kept this way. To remedy this, the PEN team cut the specimens from their slide housing and placed them in ethafoam-lined gem boxes.

Drawers of specimens rehoused in their ethafoam-lined, friction-lidded gem boxes.
Individual specimen rehoused in its gem box.

Under the NSF Partner to an Existing Network (PEN) grant we were also able to image all of the type and non-type amber-containing slides and a representative collection of amber inclusions, which are available via Calphotos.

Screenshot showing a sample Calphotos image display of digitized whole slide mounts and individual insect inclusions.

With our funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in 2018, we were able to embed ~1500 inclusion-bearing Chiapas amber pieces in a clear polyester casting resin (Clear Lite from Tap Plastics) saving them from further deterioration due to oxidation and improper storage. Because the inclusions are now embedded in resin they can be handled for research, imaging, and teaching. 

Three fully processed specimens embedded in Clear-Lite casting resin. 

Check out “Our Process” pages for more information on our embedding, polishing and imaging of the UCMP Chiapas Mexican amber collection. Go to our “Digitization of the UCMP Amber Archives,” page to learn more about our collection of over 1300 documents related to the UCMP amber collection.