The simple answer is NO, Whitby jet is NOT monkey puzzle wood.
Often Whitby Jet is quoted as being formed from trees similar to the Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, this, however, is simply untrue and has arisen from a confusion in the taxonomy of paleobotanical specimens in Victorian times. Although the Araucariaceae family achieved its maximum diversity during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, when it was distributed almost worldwide it doesnt mean that all jurassic wood fossils are made from this species. There are still 42 extant (living) members of the Araucariaceae family today, which includes the Monkey Puzzle but each member looks unique. Whitby jet is formed from multiple different species of tree but the jewellery trade is reluctant to address this issue as the Monkey Puzzle myth helps to sell jewellery, it’s a case of ‘why let science get in the way of a good story!’
This myth was disproved in the 1920’s, confirmed in the 1930’s and proven untrue again in the 1990’s using up to date paleobotanical criteria. At the Ebor Jetworks we like to inform our customers of the truth and sadly therefore we must dispel this monkey puzzle myth!
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