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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2019

Were Beavers Once Bigger than Humans?

by  Digger Doug


Dear Digger Doug,

Is it true that beavers used to be bigger than humans?


Dear reader,

While modern American beavers are 2½ to 3 feet in length and weigh 25-70 pounds, the Giant Beaver that lived during the Ice Age, though it looked very similar to modern beavers, was much bigger. It was about 8 feet long and weighed in at 125-225 pounds. Its hind feet were particularly large, compared to modern beavers. While modern beaver front teeth (the incisors) are less than 1 inch in length, Giant Beaver teeth were up to 6 inches in length! Since the paddles of Giant Beaver tails (like modern beavers) were probably made of soft tissue that does not easily fossilize, we do not know what they looked like, nor do we know if their feet were webbed like modern beaver feet. If so, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be slapped with that tail!

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