Insects in Amber pose a few problems for geochronology

27 Oct 2010

Again, at ... in this instance, amber found in India. The cache of insects is said to indicate India was not isolated for millions of years out of reach of the rest of the world. The orthodox theory is that continental drift proceeds at a very slow rate and therefore when India broke away from Africa, as long ago as 150 million years, it was adrift in what is now the Indian Ocean for the following 100 million years, gradually moving towards Asia - which it finally struck but still tried to keep on going, buckling what is now the Himalaya Mountains.

The amber at the root of the problem was brought to the surface as a result of open pit mining and scientists have gathered in a scramble to find new life forms - or evolution in action. The fossil rich amber is one of the things that has interested them as theory demands that unique species evolved over the 100 million years in isolation - but they don't exist and have never existed. The insects and spiders are exactly the same species as were living in Asia, Europe and Australia at the time - so there is actually no evidence of a protracted phase of isolation - as it stands at the moment. Does this mean plate tectonics is wrong? ... or does it mean science will have to re-evaluate how fast continental drift occurs? Does it mean that it might take place rapidly, for example, and what level of plate movement was there when the Chicxulub crater was formed and the Deccan traps erupted, around 63 million years ago?