The Virtual Petrified Wood Museum.  Dedicated to the Exhibition and Educational Study of Permineralized Plant Material
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Encapsulation occurs when minerals form around an organism. Late Miocene gypsum deposits in the Alba area in Piedmont, Northern Italy contain dragonflies (mostly larvae) entombed in single clear gypsum crystals. The insects became trapped in the gypsum as this evaporate deposit formed. The entombed insects, like most inclusions in amber, are thinly lined hollow spaces (Schluter, Kohring, & Gregor, 2003, p. 374).

Organisms may also become entombed in microcrystalline material.
The Devonian aged Rhine Chert near the Aberdeenshire villiage of Rhynie in Scotland represents an ecosystem near a sinter terrace. The area was periodically flooded with silica rich solution from hot springs and geysers (Selden & Nudds, 2004, p. 52 and Kenrick & Davis, 2004, p. 24). Organisms were permeated with silica and entombed before any cellular decay could occur. Insects have also been found encapsulated in Miocene aged onyx from Arizona (Grimaldi & Engel, 2005, pp. 49-50).


Grimaldi, D. & Engel, M.S., (2005). Evolution of the Insects. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kenrick P. and Davis, P. (2004). Fossil Plants. Smithsonian Books: Washington.

Schluter T., Kohring, R., & Gregor, H-J. (2003). Dragonflies preserved in transparent gypsum crystals from the Messinian (Upper Miocene) of Alba, northern Italy. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia, 46 (Supplement-Fossil Insects), pp. 373-379.

Selden P. & Nudds, J. (2004). Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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