Two thousand miles of beavers: 1

The drive from Lovell, Maine to Jackson, Wyoming is just under 2500 miles, and beaver live in both places. I didn’t actually see any in Wyoming, but we found fascinating evidence of their presence. New to me was a little dam made of pebbles only, just enough to create the sort of terracing effect that makes the stream deep enough to float logs down.

Here it is in closeup. Mark, my guide, says that they may start like this and then build a larger structure on top with logs.

Personally, I would have guessed it was an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture, perhaps secretly constructed at night.

Another day, some distance from water, we found all that was left of a beaver that must have been killed and carried some distance:

The orange color is iron, which makes the enamel extremely strong. Notice the gap between the huge incisors and the back teeth: a beaver seals its lips behind the incisors, so it can carry branches without getting a mouthful of water. Nearby we found the lower jaw, and we slid the lower incisors out all the way to see how much tooth was there in reserve as the beaver wears away its teeth with all that chewing. The teeth grow throughout its life.

You can also see that the back of the incisors is not orange, and has worn away more quickly than the front, creating a very effective wedge-shaped cutting edge.

One more photo for fun. Close to the beaver skull was the femur (I think) of something BIG, bison or moose:

Next time, back East.

4 thoughts on “Two thousand miles of beavers: 1”

  1. The stone wall serpentining through the woods is amazing….so much time to create. Maybe, the beaver just died & wasn’t killed. There’s also a large skat above the ‘femur.’

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  2. The beaver may have just died, but if so I suspect a predator moved the carcass. It was all a long way from any water, and the skull and saw were maybe 50 yards apart. The scat was quite fresh, coyote probably, but the bones weren’t, so I think it is unrelated.

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