September 19, 2011
Beavers Have Experienced Little Change Over 7 Million Years
The fossilized teeth of a beaver found by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees on federal land represents the earliest record of the animal in North America and are estimated to be 7 to 7.3 million years old. The teeth come from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, a protected area with an abundance of fossils, Fox News is reporting.Surprisingly, the fossil teeth are almost identical to the chompers of living beavers and illustrate that the animal has changed little in seven million years.
“This indicates that their appearance and role in the environment would have been the same in the past,” according to National Park Service (NPS) researchers.
“Worldwide, the earliest “true” beaver, as we would think of them today, comes from Germany, about 10 to 12 million years ago. These beavers then spread across Asia, and eventually crossed the Bering Land Bridge to North America,” NPS adds.
The previous earliest known records of the tree-felling mammal in North America are from 5 million years ago and were found in what is now Nebraska, California, and northern Oregon, the International Business Times reports.
The fossils will be displayed at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
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