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Gilboa Fossil
Gilboa Fossil (Courtesy of NYC Environmental Protection)

On the Stump

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Traces of the earliest trees — and forest — yet to be discovered on Earth were found just outside the Hudson Valley in Gilboa, Schoharie County. From the fossilized stumps, scientists estimate that the trees, in the genus Wattieza, grew up to 30 feet tall. Dating back around 375 million years, these ancestors of ferns would have towered over the rest of the plant world, which then consisted primarily of mosses and liverworts.

Many of these fossils were unearthed during work to erect and reconstruct the Gilboa Dam, which impounds a reservoir supplying water to New York City. Today, you can find displays of Wattieza’s ancient trunks outside the Gilboa Museum  and along NY Route 990V (just north of a dam overlook). Sounds like a cool day trip destination.

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