In many ways, amber is nature's historian. As a tree resin, it starts as a sticky flowing substance that often traps flora and fauna in its path. Then, as volatile compounds in the resin evaporate and other chemical changes take place, it becomes fossilized, preserving its contents for millions of years.
Not only is amber prized by jewelry makers, it's also valued by scientists, who can peer into it to look back at the past in a very real way.
Perhaps one of the most striking examples of amber's ability to freeze time is this specimen of a harvestman spider, also known as a daddy long legs. This particular critter was about to have sex, as evidenced by its erect penis, which is normally hidden inside the body in its less excited state.
The spider is estimated to be about 99 million years old, which certainly adds new meaning to lasting forever. The spider's discovery was reported in The Science of Nature journal in January 2016.
"This is the first record of a male copulatory organ of this nature preserved in amber and is of special importance due to the age of the deposit," reads the paper on the find.
First published Feb. 25, 2016.
Update, Dec. 12, 2017: Adds images including a tick, feathered dinosaur, wings and a baby bird.
Update, June 14, 2018: Adds images of a tailed spider, a chameleon and a tick in a spider web.
Published:Caption:Michael FrancoPhoto:Jason Dunlop, Paul Selden & Gonzalo Giribet