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1705 Views 4 Replies Last post: Oct 24, 2013 9:18 PM by MikeHardman RSS
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Oct 23, 2013 9:42 PM

Will this copal contain cells?

I am getting a x600 microscope for Christmas, and I was wondering if this copal could contain cells.  I bought it from  Also, will the little flys inside it contain blood and organs and things?  I have always wanted to see a prehistoric cell that is more older than an onion cell.

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    Oct 23, 2013 9:19 PM (in response to Dan)
    Re: Will this copal contain cells?



    Microscope for Christmas - nice one!


    It is likely that those flies will be in good enough condition for you to see some good structures, down to cellular level. But don't expect to see DNA or reincarnate a dinosaur!  Of course, you'll be looking not only at fossil or sub-fossils creatures, but modern ones too - where you should be able to see some amazing detail more easily.


    To get the most out of your microscope, you'll have to learn about specimen preparation, too.

    At low magnifications, things are quite straightforward (the main thing is to adjust the lighting). But at high magnifications, depth of field becomes very shallow. That means that unless the specimen is flat and at right angles to your viewing angle, parts of the image will be considerably out of focus. That's one of the reasons why so many specimens are put on a glass slide, and possibly covered with a thin glass 'cover slip' - to keep them flat. With rocks, it is usually necessary to slice the rock and grind it so thin it becomes translucent. You would not be expected to do that at home.

    Another problem at high magnification is that the end of the lens needs to be so close to the specimen that it is nearly impossible to light it from above. To get round that you might be able to light it from below (depends on the specimen). But alternatively, you might need to immerse the specimen in a drop of oil and let the end of the lens touch the oil. That also has the effect if improving the resolution. See here for more; and here.


    There are some good microscopy web sites, eg.


    When buying fossils, do be aware that there are fakes about, both in minerals and fossils.



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          Oct 24, 2013 9:18 PM (in response to Dan)
          Re: Will this copal contain cells?



          I think those are just bubbles.

          Need to look closer for cells in this sort of material.


          This is quite a cool diagram;

          slide the slider to zoom in/out - really gives an idea of the range of sizes of cells


          This is a good podcast on cells


          As a matter of interest, bubbles in copal/amber can be interesting. They arise either from decomposing plant/animal matter in the resin (not so interesting), or from the atmosphere (pockets can get trapped as the resin slowly runs/oozes down the trunk or as insects/etc. become entombed). In that way, some bubbles in copal/resin can contain samples of ancient atmosphere, give or take a bit of diffusion into/out-of the resin.



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