Giant post-apocalytic beaver consumes entire news cycle!

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 6 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

That exciting beaver news must have excited EVERYONE EVERYWHERE because today it’s on the BBC, the Washington Post and National Geographic. Sadly, this means it has completely squeezed all other beaver stories out of the news, because no self-respecting paper can run TWO beaver stories on the same day, (heaven forbid).

That’s okay though because the Smithsonian one has nice details that are worth sharing.

Ancient Toothy Mammal Survived Dino Apocalypse

Though small, the mammal is an exciting find, the researchers said. It belongs to a group of rodentlike mammals called multituberculates, named for the numerous cusps, or tubercles, found on their teeth. Multituberculates lived alongside dinosaurs, but managed to survive the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. They lived for another 30 million years before they, too, went extinct, the researchers said.

So THAT”S what multituberculates means, many cusps! I don’t think any other source explained that fact, This is the part I especially loved.

Spectacular teeth
Researchers named the newfound species Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, in honor of the area in which they found it, Kimbeto Wash, New Mexico. The Greek word “psalis” means “cutting shears,” a reference to the creature’s magnificent teeth, and the species name, “simmonsae,” is a nod to Nancy Simmons, a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History renowned for her work on multituberculates.

Magnificent Sheers! That sure sounds like a beaver to me. I had to go look up Nancy Simmons and her famous work on the cuspadors. She’s home grown and graduated from UCB. Here’s what else I found:

Dr. Nancy Simmons

Faculty and researcher at the American Museum of Natural history, Dr. Simmons specializes in the morphology and evolutionary biology of bats (Chiroptera). She works with both living and fossil species, and is interested in patterns of speciesdiversification, biogeography, the evolution of dietary habits, higher-level bat relationships, early Tertiary fossil bats, and the evolution of flight and echolocation. A morphologist by training, she works with data gained from museum specimens and high-resolution CT scans, combining these with DNA sequence data generated by collaborators to build and test phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses. In addition to her work on bats, Dr. Simmons is part of team working on further development of tools for managing large-scale morphological projects (e.g., build the Tree of Life).


Another example of what bats and beavers have in common! Corky would be so proud.

Imagine getting a species of beaver named after you…I admit,  I’m kind of jealous. Do you think they’ll ever be a city dwelling beaver named after us?


Kimbetopsalis Simmonsae (Pre-Beaver)

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 5 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Guess what they just found out took over the planet after all those lizardy dinosaurs were wiped by the comet? OF COURSE YOU KNOW THE ANSWER.

Kimbetopsalis Simmonsae was a plant-eating mammal that exploded into the void created by the now extinct lizards. Weighing at a hefty 50 lbs and taking advantage of all the lush vegetation. Although it has no direct descendents, is success made room for the descent line of every mammal alive today.

Including us.

Recognize this plant-eating tooth structure? Molars in the back and incisors in the front? The fossil was found in New Mexico, the site of the dinosaur-hitting crater. Because these pre-beavers wasted NO time.

It’s literally all over the news this morning, how beaver-like creatures took over after the lizards and made a new race of mammals, but here’s a science-based report from sent by BK from Georgia.

How we found the ‘prehistoric beaver’ that helped mammals inherit Earth after dinosaurs were wiped out

Sixty six million years ago the world changed in an instant. A huge asteroid, some ten kilometers in diameter, smashed into what is now Mexico. It arrived with the force of several million nuclear bombs, and unleashed a deadly cocktail of wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes.

It wasn’t a good time to be alive. Scientists estimate that about 75% of all species became extinct, most famously among them the dinosaurs. But some of our furry ancestors managed to make it through the apocalypse. With T. rex and Triceratops now out of the picture, gutsy little mammals had a new world to colonize.

A new fossil from New Mexico is helping us better understand how mammals took advantage of the dinosaur extinction to become the incredibly successful creatures that we know today. It was discovered and studied by a team of researchers that I am part of, led by Thomas Williamson of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Despite appearances, Kimbetopsalis was no beaver (which is a type of rodent). It was a member of a completely extinct group of mammals called multituberculates, which originated alongside the dinosaurs, survived the extinction, diversified afterwards, and ultimately went extinct 35 million years ago when they were superseded by the smarter, faster-growing modern rodents.

Kimbetopsalis is testament to how the history of life hinges on moments that can reset the course of evolution. T. rex and kin had ruled the Earth for over 100 million years. Then suddenly the world was thrown into chaos by rapid environmental change. Dinosaurs couldn’t cope and all of a sudden they were gone. Their size and strength couldn’t save them. Mammals fared better, and now one species of brainy ape occupies that dominant place in nature that was once held by the dinosaurs.

Opportunity Seized, Change Created,  Evolving Conditions Utilized

. Scientists were stunned this this adaption could have taken place so quickly. But I’m not stunned. Sounds like a beaver to me, don’t you think?

This seems like a great time to repost the obvious.

The truth about the tooth

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 4 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Jack Laws
Speaking of people drawing beaver teeth inaccurately – guess what I just noticed! The amazing see it and draw it in nature John Muir Laws, who sketched our beavers lo these many years ago, did a portrait last month on how to tell beavers and otters apart. This was in the July – September issue. And it took me a while to even recognize what I was seeing.


Can you say chip monk? Or bear with beaver teeth? How could such a talented man forget everything he learned here in Martinez? He needs a dose of beaver watching STAT! I’m writing a letter. You see for yourself whether this portrait he did in person isn’t more accurate.

Brush with Destiny

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 3 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

<a href=The other day I happened to stumble upon these lovely drawings from illustrator Cornelia Svela, a talented artist in Ontario Canada. She did these beaver sketches for the ministry of the education, because (as we well know) children LOVE to learn about beavers..



Beaver gnawing: Cornelia Svela

Of course I established first contact at once, telling her about our festival and our work to save beavers. I explained that we were a nonprofit with a million inspiring beaver photos and maybe someday she would want to draw something for us? Of course I told her about the top teeth mislead and she said she hadn’t ORIGINALLY drawn them – but they had been requested. Of course. Because people don’t want to teach children the truth. They want to teach them what they learned.


Beaver Swimming: Cornelia Svela

I asked whether she had ever done and Over/under/over dam illustration and here is the sketch she sent me. Wouldn’t you love to see this reach it’s potential?

beaver dam and lodge

Over/under dam and lodge sketch. Cornelia Svela

Good news this morning is that the Butte fire is 100% contained. Thank everyone involved and the firefighters most especially. Folks near my parents house said everyone bent over backward to take care of those affected, right down to the trash company doing free pickups of spoiled food when everyone’s power went down.Capture Now I’m off to the ocean. Be good to whatever beavers you can.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

E.E. Cummings

Unravelling Mysteries of the Beaver Genome

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 2 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Here’s something we missed in September.


Fun video. Makes me genuinely curious about what they’d find. Hey, how much would we have to donate to have Bennie at a beaver festival? Looks like they’re having troubles raising the funds. I bet this website can help them a little. I’m not a fan of beavers in zoos but since he’s thereCapture already we might as well harmlessly learn what we can from him right? I mean since beavers are a big mishmash genetically because of US we should help fix what we can, right?

This article from New York tells us little that is new, but it’s a pleasant read anyway.

Species spotlight: The beaver’s tale

Looks like: The Beaver is a large, unmistakable rodent that can reach up to 26-65 pounds and features a broad, flattened tail that can reach 9-10-inches long and 6-inches wide. Beavers have yellow-brown to almost black fur, webbed feet and prominent orange teeth.

Niche: Beavers are herbivores, eating tree and water plant parts. As winter approaches, they will collect and cache food underwater near the entrance of their lodge in a “feedpile” to use during winter. Beavers can be prey for coyote, fisher, bear and bobcat when they leave the pond in search of food. Kits can also be prey for mink, otter, fox and great-horned owl.s tale

Not nearly enough about how this keystone species builds wetlands that safe fish, frogs, birds and otter. But it’s nice to see anyway. I am impatient for the day when the people who decide to print “interesting facts about the beaver” have things to say that are REALLY interesting.

I don’t know how your blood pressure is this morning, but I’m heading out on vacation tomorrow so mine’s looking pretty good. I’ll try to reach over the mai tai’s and coconuts and manage to post something, especially Wednesday because it will be the auspicious occasion of our 3000th post. Wow. I’ll make sure to tell you a really closely guarded beaver secret that day to make it worth your while.

In the mean time, your blood pressure can take a vacation by watching this, from our Norwegian friend of the Scottish beavers, Sylvia Mueller. She took this on holiday in Germany.

Beautiful footage. Enjoy.

Beaver Lottery

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 1 - 2015Comments Off on Beaver Lottery

Apparently folks can’t wait to shoot beavers in Aragon Georgia.

No help needed in hunt for Aragon beavers

Chris Hindman has one simple message for Aragon residents following his and two other contractors beginning their hunt for the beavers blocking up the spring that feeds the mill pond: Stay away.

The trio of hunters who were asked by the city to get rid of the beaver population on land adjacent to the mill pond, have killed two beavers so far and will be continuing their city-sanctioned hunt. But first they want to make sure local residents understand that their help is not needed in the hunt.

Following last week’s SJ article on the need to eradicate the beaver population, Hindman said he saw several posts on Facebook alluding to local residents who planned to join the hunt.

“We just want ourselves and people to be safe,” he said

Killing beavers is such a special treat in Georgia. Everyone wants to do it. Maybe next time they should hold a lottery?

Aragon is postage stamp of a town with about 2000 people that was named for the deposits of Aragonite – (not a misspelling of Tolkien, as I originally thought.) This little sliver of a region on the northwestern border of the state that is already listed as “abnormally dry” on the drought monitor maps.  What are the odds they will come crying to FEMA for drought relief after the entire town lined up to kill the water-savers?

Loved this yesterday and had to share. Actual rain fell from the actual sky. You can’t believe how good it smelled.

Last night we sat sentinel in hopes of seeing a beaver at ward or the footbridge. We saw a green heron, several bats, and a family of raccoons swimming up the creek, but no beavers. The sky felt sorry for us and treated us to a beautiful light show after most our delicate and scented rain. Lory and Ron took this photo from their home a few blocks away, but you get the idea. Even without beavers, it was magical.


Not Enough: The AE Report

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 30 - 2015Comments Off on Not Enough: The AE Report

Did you ever have an arch enemy? I mean someone who thwarts your every move, foils your every plan, and seems to lurk just over your shoulder where you can never, never see them? AE’s are respected and listened to by all the wrong people and whatever work you do to dismiss what they say it’s too late because they’ve already gone on to speak to the next group that you’re going to have to try and re-educate.

The Martinez Beavers have had lots of enemies, city council, public works, hired environmental consulting firms, a few reporters, handsomely paid attorneys and various property owners. But we only ever had one AE. And if you don’t know who that was by now I’m not doing my job.  Here she is talking at the April 2008 council meeting. And here I am over her shoulder looking inceredulous. I believe among her many erroneous points were;

  1. that our beavers were leaving (or had already left),
  2.  that every flow device she had ever seen installed had failed,
  3. and that trees can be protected with blackberry bushes because beaver never eat them as they dislike the thorns.

Originally Mary Tappel offered her services when our city was responding to beaver problems and she was supposed to present formally to the beaver subcommittee. We all got copies of her resume in preparation. But I happened by chance to recognize her name from an article about the Elk Grove beaver fiasco in the Sacramento Bee, which my folks used to get delivered to their home in the foothills. I remember being jarred by her comment in the article at the time that the beavers had to be killed because being sterilized was stressful. I thought, ‘isn’t being killed stressful?’ Then heard later  that she was coming to Martinez to offer l her skills.

At the time she told the reporter for the Gazette that beavers “breed for 50 years”. I remember because when I read the article I wrote him and asked whether it was a typo. The editor said ‘no’ and called her to check that he got the quote correctly. And just like that my AE announced that she would  not present to the subcommittee, because we were too inflamed and hostile, and she would just meet behind the scenes with city staff.

This meant that she could whisper her poisons unchallenged into their willing ears. Telling staff once that the father beaver should be killed so that the mother would have to mate with her sons when they grew up and slow population growth in that way. No. really.

God only knows what else she said.

The mayor liked her council so much that he invited her secretly to the April 2008 meeting where the subcommittee  results were going to be presented. I remember how surprised we were to see her in the hallway outside. To this day I wonder what funds changed hands to get her there. That same night I had suddenly found out I was going to be the one to present our results. No warning, just like that go ahead and talk to 200 people. And then Mary would go after me and dispute everything I said.

It turned out to be okay though, because she was not very convincing with her waving cardboard sign. My luck. And she went away and we got what we wanted, so that seemed like a victory.

Imagine how excited I was when Jack Sanchez of S.A.R.S.A.S heard my talk in Santa Barbra and invited me to come follow her presentation on beavers in Auburn. The shoe was finally on the other foot! I was so happy. I pulled together the latest fish data and they said the talk was the best attended and the best delivered they ever had. I was on cloud 9 when it was over. Especially because of the intelligent comments of one listener from FWS who knew everything about the fish issue and could soothe anxieties at the end of the talk. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

One particularly knowledgeable young man introduced himself as Damion Ciotti from the Habitat Restoration Division of US Fish and Wildlife Service. We connected several years ago and he was very interested in our work in Martinez. I made sure he left with a copy of Mike Callahan’s DVD. You can’t imagine how helpful his comments were in soothing the beaver-disbelievers in the room. I couldn’t have orchestrated it better than to let fish savvy folk do the defending for me!

So I was stunned to hear a few months ago that my AE was invited BACK to S.A.R.S.A.S. to speak on beavers this September. Again? I got word yesterday from Damion that he attended her talk and was dismayed to hear her describe beaver as responsible for “Ecosystem Collapse“. He tried to ask pointed questions but realized she didn’t have any sources for her info but anecdote. She apparently said that there was no region in California where beaver should ever be introduced.

Ecosystem Collapse. If you google the phrase with the word beavers you get zero hits. Only articles about them being a keystone species. I guess the research world doesn’t think like Mary Tappel.

Damion said she introduced herself as working for the state, and he was worried about the influence she might have with policy. She is still staff on the regional waterboards, which is a division of the CAEPA. (Bravely protecting the environment from beavers, apparently). She is still marching around calling herself a beaver expert, and even boasts of her work with Martinez on her resume.

Mary also dealt with beaver management questions and in foothill areas such as Granite Bay, Loomis, & Roseville; and towards the Bay/Delta area in  Martinez, and to the south in Elk Grove, all in creeks and small retention basins. Mary’s involvement in foothill areas and smaller streams has always included salmonid passage concerns.

What a coincidence. With the exception of Martinez those cities are the very ones that issued the most depredation permits. Isn’t that just an amazing coincidence?


Which is not to say she hasn’t learned anything over the years. She used to preach devotedly that beavers ruined salmon passage, and now she says the salmon make their way around dams. Which is something. But I realize, sadly and with no small amount of panic, it’s not enough. I haven’t done enough. People want to hear what she says because they want to get rid of things that are inconvenient. She has a resonant message to deliver. And they want to hear what I say less because co-existence seems like it means work. Screw the salmon. Or the frogs. Just let me do what I want to do, sound environmental and give me cover. So I can get away with it.

I haven’t done enough. And even though, if you google her name, the warnings of this website are nearly the only thing that come up, even though I was able to follow her talk on her home turf in the very county where they kill the most beavers in the entire state, and even though I talked BWW into taking her off their resource list for beaver experts in CA: It’s not enough. I’m not doing enough.

My arch enemy continues to influence the American River area and all its surrounds. She has a powerful platform and a respected government job to grant her credibility. And I haven’t beaten her.