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12:25pm, December 18, 2009

Outsized beaver
Accompanying your recent article about giant extinct beavers (“Ancient beavers did not eat trees,” SN: 11/21/09, p. 10), there is an illustration that seems to show that the extinct beaver was about twice the length of a present-day beaver. I measured each from nose to the base of the tail rather than to the tip of the tail since the tails seemed so dissimilar. This suggests to me that the ancient beaver would have had close to eight times the mass of the present-day beaver, since width and height would likely also be doubled, yet the article describes an ancient beaver of up to 100 kilograms, which is only about three times the mass of large, present-day beavers. Is the illustration out of whack, or did “twice the size” in the caption mean “twice the length?”
Greg Skala, Nanaimo, Canada

You’re right. Although the beavers shown in the schem

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