Unusual concentration of Early Albian arthropod-bearing amber in the Basque-Cantabrian Basi (El Soplao, Cantabria, Northern Spain): Palaeoenvironmental and palaeobiological implications


  • M. NAJARRO Instituto Geológico y Minero de EspañaRíos Rosas 23, 28003 Madrid, Spain.
  • E. PEÑALVER Instituto Geológico y Minero de EspañaRíos Rosas 23, 28003 Madrid, Spain.
  • I. ROSALES Instituto Geológico y Minero de EspañaRíos Rosas 23, 28003 Madrid, Spain.
  • V. DAVIERO-GOMEZ UMR 5125 (PEPS) CNRS, Paléobotanique, Université Lyon-1 (Claude-Bernard)Campus de la Doua, F-69622 Villeurbanne, France.
  • B. GÓMEZ UMR 5125 (PEPS) CNRS, Paléobotanique, Université Lyon-1 (Claude-Bernard)Campus de la Doua, F-69622 Villeurbanne, France.
  • Xavier Declós Departament d’Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències Marines, Universitat de BarcelonaCampus de Pedralbes, 08071 Barcelona, Spain.




Arthropod bioinclusions, Fossil resin, Plant cuticles, Lower Albian, Spain


The El Soplao site is a recently-discovered Early Albian locality of the Basque-Cantabrian Basin (northern Spain) that has yielded a number of amber pieces with abundant bioinclusions. The amber-bearing deposit occurs in a non-marine to transitional marine siliciclastic unit (Las Peñosas Formation) that is interleaved within a regressive-transgressive, carbonate-dominated Lower Aptian-Upper Albian marine sequence. The Las Peñosas Formation corresponds to the regressive stage of this sequence and in its turn it splits into two smaller regressive-transgressive cycles. The coal and amber-bearing deposits occur in deltaic-estuarine environments developed during the maximum regressive episodes of these smaller regressive-transgressive cycles. The El Soplao amber shows Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy spectra similar to other Spanish Cretaceous ambers and it is characterized by the profusion of sub-aerial, stalactite-like flows. Well-preserved plant cuticles assigned to the conifer genera Frenelopsis and Mirovia are abundant in the beds associated with amber. Leaves of the ginkgoalean genera Nehvizdya and Pseudotorellia also occur occasionally. Bioinclusions mainly consist of fossil insects of the orders Blattaria, Hemiptera, Thysanoptera, Raphidioptera, Neuroptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera, although some spiders and spider webs have been observed as well. Some insects belong to groups scarce in the fossil record, such as a new morphotype of the wasp Archaeromma (of the family Mymarommatidae) and the biting midge Lebanoculicoides (of the monogeneric subfamily Lebanoculicoidinae). This new amber locality constitutes a very significant finding that will contribute to improving the knowledge and comprehension of the Albian non-marine paleoarthropod fauna.


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