Beaver Fact of the Week: Mega Beavers Once Roamed America

Modern day beavers are large – 60lbs to be precise. But what if I told you a  species of megafauna (the term for giant mammals alive between about 100,000 and 10,000 years ago) beaver roamed the earth along side iconic creatures like the sabertooth tigers and woolly mammoths, and that the megabeaver made modern beavers look tiny?

The megafauna beaver, Castoroides ohioensis, was one big beaver. At around 6-8 feet in length, and 200-300 pounds in weight, this jumbo beaver had roughly the same dimensions as an NFL linebacker (the megafauna beaver had a particularly small brain for its body size, and the joke my advisor likes to make is that it had similar brain power to linebackers too….). It’s not known for sure whether or not this giant rodent built dams – most of their fossils were found in natural swamps without any dam relics nearby, suggesting that the beavers inhabited existing wetlands as opposed to creating their own through damming. Below is a museum exhibit on mega beavers, with humans for scale.

Whenever I read about the megafauna around during the last ice age and then see pictures like this, I am always reminded of how glad I am that I don’t need to worry about linebacker sized rodents running around today.



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