30 Million Year Old Beaver Fossil Discovered

May 18, 2016 10:03 pm Published by

It seems Beaver Nation has a whole new meaning in Oregon.

Prehistoric Beaver Fossil

Researchers say the extinct Microtheriomys brevirhinus beaver is much smaller than the modern-day Castor beaver — more like the size of a tree squirrel. (Courtesy of Dr. Joshua Samuels)

By Tara Kulash (Oregonlive, May 26, 2015)

Paleontologists working in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument have reported discovering a prehistoric beaver species that could be a distant ancestor of the mammal we know today.

It’s also the first known find of this species in North America.
Dr. Joshua Samuels, museum curator and chief paleontologist at the monument, said the species, named Microtheriomys brevirhinus, was discovered in 2012 and is believed to be between 28 million and 30 million years old, or from the Oligocene Period. Samuels has studied this fossil, among others, for the past few years and compared it to beavers elsewhere.

This particular species, he said, does not seem related to the previously discovered burrowing beaver, whose fossils date to that same period in Oregon. Essentially, the burrowing beavers dug with their teeth and claws and lived like prairie dogs.

Instead, the newly discovered fossil is similar to the prehistoric aquatic beaver species found in Asia and Europe.

This beaver “might actually be the only thing with living descendants today,” Samuels said.


Read the full story here: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/05/prehistoric_beaver_discovered.html

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This post was written by Michael Wong