London: A world-renowned British photographer who specialises in capturing images of the world’s insects has turned his attention to animals that have been encased in amber for millions of years.
The animals were found along Latvia’s Baltic coast an date back between 40 and 45 million years ago.
Levon Bliss, from London and now based in Wiltshire, has published stunning images of ten insects that died when walking along fledgling tree branches after getting trapped in sap.
The sap trapped the unfortunate animals and, over time, hardened to form amber.
Amber preserves the animals in their original condition and its translucent appearance allows the entombed animals within to then be studied.
Amber has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, and is often found to hold remarkably well-preserved materials from eras long since passed.
The golden-coloured translucent substance is formed when resin from extinct coniferous trees became hardened and then fossilised.
Often insects, plant material, pollen and other creatures became trapped in the resin, causing them to be entombed within after it solidified.
The amber-encased insects were polished by Mr Bliss and placed in a liquid with a refractive index similar to that of the amber.
This helps reduce the scattering and ‘bending’ of light as it travels from one medium to another – such as through air and into water.
If two materials have a significantly different refractive index, light slows down when moving between them and this distorts the image – it is the same phenomena as when a a straw is placed in a cup of water and appears to bend.
By suspending the object in the liquid, light used to illuminate the amber is prevented from ‘bouncing around at different angles’.
The images are on sale at Mr Bliss’ website and range from £500 to £650 ($645 to $840).