Sunday, August 14, 2011

Giant Beaver

Giant Beaver at the Field Museum
So today lets learn about the largest Ice Age rodent: the Giant Beaver. These massive creatures could grow over 8ft long! Based on their skeletal structure, we can assume that they looked very much like modern Beavers, only on a greater scale. To give some perspective on how large Giant Beavers were, they would be about the same size as a Black Bear!

Reconstruction at the Kenosha Public Museum
Giant Beavers lived in North America during the last Ice Age, and went extinct around 10,000 years ago, along with many of the other megafauna species. While human movement into North America may have played  a part in the extinction of other creatures, there has been no found evidence yet that Giant Beavers were hunted by man.

Giant Beavers and modern Beavers share many similarities. They both build lodges and they both live a semi-aquatic lifestyle. However, Giant Beavers had broader teeth than their cousins, and they were rounded rather then chiseled. They also had shorter legs, larger hind feet, and a longer tail (proportionally, of course). This suggests that they may have had difficultly moving on land, making them an even more aquatic species.

Habitat reduction and competition with modern Beavers may have led to the demise of this gigantic species, much like many of the other Ice Age giants.

Status : Extinct for 10,000 years
Location : North America
Size : Body length up to 8.2ft (2.5m), Weight up to 220lbs (100kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Castoridae -- Genus : †Castoroides -- Species : †C. ohioensis


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