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Lost society hidden in Ecuador’s ‘pristine’ cloud forest

Tiny pieces of pollen and charcoal found in lake sediment in Ecuador’s Quijos Valley have revealed a detailed timeline of what happened to an indigenous people forgotten from history, National Geographic reports. Thousands of individuals made up the Quijo groups, which lived across the region in agrarian communities until the Spanish arrived in 1540s. Large nuggets of charcoal found in the silt marked the height of the conflict, and pollen spots showed the fast changing growth of plant life after the Quijos were eradicated from the area by 1578, scientists report in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The cultivated valley was quickly overtaken by forest, which grew undisturbed by humans for the next 130 years, eventually to be mistaken by botanists in the 1850s as part of the untouched cloud forest.

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