Amber from Sayreville, New Jersey (USA)

Cretaceous World
The world at the time of New Jersey amber

Cretaceous New Jersey wasp
In the early 1990's, a local fossil collector made an old discovery in the abandoned clay pits of Sayreville, New Jersey. He was there to look for plant fossils but found amber. Clay mining began in the 1800's in New Jersey. The mining revealed that particular layers of clay would be studded with lignite, carbonized plant material, and occasional pieces of amber.
New Jersey Cockroach nymph

This area of lignite with amber has proven to be very different than usual. This locality has produced more than 500 pounds of amber over 90,000,000 years old. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is the repository for the more than 100 new insects species discovered in this amber. Dr David Grimaldi, of the American Museum, is the scientist studying and curating these specimens.
The amber from this site is the oldest from the new world with inclusions and the third oldest in the world.
New Jersey aphid nymph
I have dug at this locality since 1994. The photographs shown are specimens from my personal collection.

New Jersey leafhopper nymph
Dr. David Grimaldi of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City has recently published a scientific paper describing the 7 ants found at the New Jersey amber locality. Brownimecia clavata , was the name given to one ant. I collected one of the two specimens of this ant. Brownimecia clavata represents the oldest member of a living sub-family of ants. This means that ants were around over 90,000,000 years ago. From this new information, scientists believe that ants probably evolved around 130,000,000 years ago.
    You can read about these ants in these scientific papers:
  • New and Rediscovered Primative Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Cretaceous Amber from New Jersey, and Their Phylogenetic Relationships
    American Museum Novitates, number 3208, Oct. 23, 1997

    The American Museum has posted this paper on its website. The URL is
  • Oldest known ant fossils discovered
    Nature, vol. 391, pg. 447, 29 January 1998

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Yale Goldman