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Jordan Clark
Jordan Clark

Amber UPD

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The Caribbean's newest port of call, Amber Cove raises the bar for cruise line private islands. The Carnival Corp.-owned village, which welcomes lines including Carnival, Princess and Holland America, offers a combination of fun, history and culture on the Dominican Republic's northern coast. (Most cruise ships visit the south.) Cruisers can enjoy everything from ziplining and kayaking to shopping and swim-up bars. They also can leave the private area and venture to nearby Puerto Plata for great shopping, authentic Dominican dining and a closer look at the first European settlement in the Americas. Look out for familiar scenes from the first Jurassic Park movie, part of which was filmed in Puerto Plata. (The fossilized amber can be found at the city's Amber Museum.)

Shoppers rejoice: Amber Cove is full of neat little stores and markets that steer clear of the "same-old, same-old" chain stores typically seen in other Caribbean ports. Products include local cigars, coffee and handmade trinkets. If you're looking for something one-of-a-kind, go for the amber. The gorgeous gemstone, which is formed when tree sap turns to resin, is commonly used in jewelry because of its varying hues of orange-yellow-red. Dominican amber is revered for its transparency, and many pieces actually have fossilized insects inside. Use the port's shuttle system to navigate the shops and property. Note: Amber Cove also has a transportation hub of buses and preauthorized taxis to take passengers to shore excursions, Puerto Plata and other area attractions.

Perfectly preserved in an amber "time capsule," a tiny chalcid wasp is among 30 new discoveries that represent the first amber fossils ever found in Africa. (See x-ray pictures of otherwise "invisible" bugs encased in opaque amber.)

Perfectly preserved in an amber \"time capsule,\" a tiny chalcid wasp is among 30 new discoveries that represent the first amber fossils ever found in Africa. (See x-ray pictures of otherwise \"invisible\" bugs encased in opaque amber.)

Measuring just 0.4 millimeter long, this immaculately preserved wasp is among the variety of amber-encased bugs from the dino-era African forest. Other finds from the site in what is now Ethiopia include a rare web-weaving fossil spider and one of the world's oldest ants. (See a picture of the oldest known spider web found in amber.)

The rare African amber also preserved bacteria, fungi, and plant remains from the Cretaceous period forest, such as this star-shaped hair from a fern species that sapped nutrients from the trees on which it grew.

The amber was formed when the forest, in what is now Ethiopia, was still mostly made up of conifers. But newly emerging flowering trees \"are evidenced by cuticles in the amber and by pollen grains in the amber-bearing sediment,\" said study leader Alexander Schmidt.

A thrips, or thunder fly, encased in amber is among the newly discovered Ethiopian amber fossils. Only the third fossil thrips ever found, the woodland insect lived when Africa was part of a giant supercontinent called Gondwana.The African amber discoveries offer a window into a period of major biological change triggered by the appearance of flowering plants, said study leader Alexander Schmidt of the University of Göttingen. (Find out how flowering plants changed the world in National Geographic magazine.)

Studies of the animals and plant pieces trapped in the African amber will be crucial to understanding insect life in the prehistoric forests of Gondwana, since small bugs don't fossilize in rock, said team member Matthias Svojtka, a paleontologist at the University of Vienna. (Related: \"Dino-Era Feathers Found Encased in Amber.\") 041b061a72


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