Huge chunks of amber containing the remnants of ancient rainforests have been found along beaches in Far North Queensland, the first amber fossils to be found in Australia.
The amber pieces, some as big as a football, contain flies, beetles, spiders, flowers, fungi, moss, fern spores and pollen as well as bubbles of gas and water from the time, the researchers say. The fossils are at least 4 million years old, they say, possibly much older.
Fisherman Dale Wicks and partner Beth Norris discovered the amber while taking evening walks along the beach on the Cape York Peninsula, says University of New South Wales palaeontologist Henk Godthelp.
"While amber-like substances such as copal and coal resin are found in Australia, no-one had found true amber", he says. The fossilised resin is most likely from kauri pine, which grows in rainforests.