Baltic amber specimens to be returned to Königsberg collection

Friday, July 28, 2017 - 13:42 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente held up a piece of ancient amber, peering at the 40-million-year-old insect inside. Preserved whole after being trapped in sap that hardened over millennia, the fierce-looking larva was a favorite: Its image adorned his computer desktop. “Looks like a monster, almost — full of spikes,” Pérez-de la Fuente said. Then he added: “It’s going back.” A Harvard postdoctoral fellow and expert in fossilized insects, Pérez-de la Fuente was standing that late May day in the basement of the Northwest Laboratory, near one of the many cabinets that house the 50,000 to 60,000 fossil insects in the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s paleoentomology collection. He had pulled out a drawer holding hundreds of insects about to be returned to Germany in repayment of a long-forgotten loan. In 1934, Harvard instructor on economic entomology Charles T. Brues borrowed the specimens from the University of Königsberg in what was then East Prussia. Why...

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