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Amber is fossil resin, mainly from from conifers. The word originates from the Arabic 'Anbar', originally referring to ambergris, the waxy substance deriverd from the sperm whale digestive system and applied in perfumery. Since both amber and ambergris sometimes wash up on the shores and are easily confused, the word started referring to both substances.
In some cases, amber may contain inclusions in the form of fossilized arthropods or other animals, and plants, often showing excuisite preservation. Amber is light. When gently tapped against the teeth, a plasticy sound can be heard. The color is usually yellowish, and both transparent and opaque forms are found.
Most amber originates from the Baltic area. Kaliningrad in Russia holds about 90% of global production. Amber regularly washes up on shores in the Netherlands, Germany and the Baltic area. The Dominican Republic is also a major source of amber.
Amber can be confused with -more recent- copal.
A piece of amber found near Groningen, The Netherlands.
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