The forests of the Northeast U.S. were radically altered by European settlers and little was known about what trees existed there before colonization, until now. Researchers found fossilized leaves in the Pennsylvania foothills from hardwood trees that thrived in the area before settlers arrived. American beech, red oak and sweet birch trees grew there more than 300 years ago and were pushed out by box elder and sugar maple trees, according to a study published in PLoS ONE.

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