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Article: Amber from the Alpine Triassic of Lunz (Carnian, Austria): a classic palaeobotanical site

Palaeontology - Volume 60 Part 5 - Cover Image
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 60
Part: 5
Publication Date: September 2017
Page(s): 743 759
Author(s): Thilo C. Fischer, Oluwadayo O. Sonibare, Birgitt Aschauer, Eike Kleine‐Benne, Paula Braun, and Barbara Meller
Addition Information

How to Cite

FISCHER, T.C., SONIBARE, O.O., ASCHAUER, B., KLEINE‐BENNE, E., BRAUN, P., MELLER, B. 2017. Amber from the Alpine Triassic of Lunz (Carnian, Austria): a classic palaeobotanical site. Palaeontology, 60, 5, 743-759. DOI: 10.1111/pala.12313

Author Information

  • Thilo C. Fischer - Biotechnology of Natural Products Technical University Munich Freising Germany (Email:
  • Oluwadayo O. Sonibare - Petroleum & Environmental Geochemistry Research Group Chemistry Department University of Ibadan Ibadan Nigeria
  • Birgitt Aschauer - Waidhofen/Ybbs Austria
  • Eike Kleine‐Benne - Gerstel GmbH & Co. KG Leiter Technisches Produktmanagement Mülheim an der Ruhr Germany
  • Paula Braun - Munich University of Applied Sciences Munich Germany
  • Barbara Meller - c/o Institute of Palaeontology University of Vienna Geocenter Vienna Austria

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 08 August 2017
  • Manuscript Accepted: 24 May 2017
  • Manuscript Received: 07 February 2017

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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Amber from the Triassic (Carnian) of Lunz, a locality which has produced a rich and famous fossil flora, was analysed using UV‐B‐fluorescence, attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR‐FTIR) and pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectroscopy (Py‐GC‐MS). The amber is classified as a class Ib resinite based on its chemical composition, which is characterized by bicyclic products derived from a regular labdatriene structure and the absence of succinic acid. The presence of diterpenoids and absence of triterpenoids is clear evidence of a gymnosperm origin for the Lunz amber, and the prevalence of sesquiterpenoids and diterpenoids point to a conifer family as a possible botanical source. In search of amber attached to identifiable floral remains we have screened new and historical collections of the macroflora from a number of localities of the Lunz area using UV‐B, and describe a striking yellow UV‐B‐fluorescence of cuticles of pteridosperms, ginkgophytes and conifers. This varies with the diagenetic state of the sediment and may be lost altogether. Detectable amounts of fluorescent compounds were observed in gymnosperm taxa, but not in any ferns and only very weakly in horsetails. This underlines that fluorescent compounds are derived from gymnosperm plants, mostly likely arising secondarily from cyclic hydrocarbons by desaturation during diagenesis as a parallel process in amber as well as in cuticles.

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