Why Do Bugs Trapped In Amber Appear Upright Instead of Squished?


I’ve noticed many creatures trapped in amber appear to be in a stable, upright, or just generally not “squished” position.

This sort of surprises me. For instance, if you were to pour honey on a bug it would look flattened, the legs would likely all be stuck and scrunched together, and the whole bug would just look like a mess. Instead we have ancient praying mantises that look like they are posing for a photo.

In: Biology

When bugs are caught in amber, they aren’t covered all at once. The tree sap, which is much thicker than honey, catches part of them and then slowly covers the rest. And because it is thicker (more viscous) than something like honey, the bug isn’t squished. If you’ve ever looked at a sticky trap or fly paper, it’s more like that.

The pictures people show tend to be of the best specimens, it’s not uncommon for things to get squished though, see links for examples. It all sort of depends on how they wind up in the amber, and on the size/toughness of the insect too. Also, have you ever poured honey on a bug? I never have, I don’t actually know what they wind up looking like.