The Beaver Borrowers

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 9 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

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Imagine my surprise when I saw our friend Eli Asarian post this photo on the beaver management forum to promote his workshop at the upcoming salmonid Conference! I didn’t remember him asking me to use it, or asking Cheryl?

But I’m on vacation. Maybe it slipped past me, maybe that isn’t even Cheryl’s photo? So I politely inquired. He said that they were using it as “Place-holder” for promotional materials and were going to ask eventually.  I see now that they actually were using three such “place-holders”. And really since the materials have already been released, they can no longer be accurately described as “place-holders” can it?

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Now don’t get me wrong. It’s good that they credited Cheryl and Worth A Dam and we’re happy to share for the right reasons, but honestly, you would think that if ALL these people were learning to live with beavers, they’d eventually have some of their OWN photos to use for these things, wouldn’t you? How hard is it to ASK anyway?



Now with that rant off my chest I have to hurry up and move to Canada in time to send out the cutest Christmas Card Stamps EVER.

A moose, beaver and polar bear celebrate Christmas on new stamps from Canada

Wouldn’t that put you in the holiday spirit? Tell Canadian Santa I’ve been good. It’s not like I’m greedy, I only need the middle one.

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Politics makes strange beaver-fellows

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 8 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

I warned you many times, “All politics is beavers”. And now there’s proof – from a political commentary Op-ed in Canada. Read for yourself.

Beaver, the Jock and the wily Fur-Trader

Make no mistake; Canadians essentially have in front of them three distinct options: a beaver, jock and a wily fur-trader. Certainly, each appeals to different segments of Canadian society. However, the victors will be from the team that maintains camaraderie, energizes its support base and lures voters away from competitors with both character and vision.

The Fur-trader

Fur-traders are both romanticized and notorious in Canadian history. It’s an important part of our heritage, but there is a disturbing, dark-side to that enterprise, which includes theft, murder and the sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women. 

The Beaver

At an early age, Canadians are introduced to the productiveness of the beaver. It’s quite telling of a society that chooses to symbolize itself with the unassuming, down-to-earth and industrious beaver, that win’s Canadian hearts and minds, for he just puts his head down and gets on with the gritty-business of building his house. By doing so, he earns the trust and respect of generations of Canadians. That is increasingly how many Canadians are viewing Thomas Mulcair. His commitment to balancing the budget, protecting the environment but, most importantly, ensuring that there are no “lesser” Canadians, is earning him votes.

Well, I usually try not to be too partisan on this website, but you can guess who I’d be voting for, and who – if I was a struggling candidate – I’d want to be compared too.

But people still kill beavers when they do things we don’t like – and they do so very easily and with complete self-justification. So I wouldn’t get too excited about being called the ‘beaver candidate’ just yet…


Last day of vacation. And it looks like the fog-factory is going to be closed again so I have to run. There’s a pair of peregrine falcons that sit on the sea rock by our doorstep eating oystercatchers and sanderlings to their hearts content. I have to go see what mischief they got up to this morning.




MMM Beavers!

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 7 - 2015ADD COMMENTS


Congratulations for having the strange fortune reading our three thousandth post! Where has the time gone? Three presents today, one for each of the thousand posts about beavers that we have endured. I’ll save the most fun for last, but let’s start with an awesome new article from Cattleman’s magazine in Canada.

In praise of water, and beavers

Steve Kenyon

Do you know who is responsible for most of the biodiversity in this country?  Long before we were ever here, it was our friendly, hard-working beaver, that’s who!  This country was built by the beaver long before the fur trade depleted their numbers. To make a home, he backs up water, causing his environment to flourish in biodiversity because all life needs water. Plants, animals, fungi, insects and birds all rely on water and thanks to the beaver, they can all thrive within abundant riparian areas.

Each ecosystem relies on the other and it all starts with water. It aggravates me when we decide that the beaver stands in the way of industry. First off, the beaver were here first. Secondly, his job is more important than ours. He created the environment that allows agriculture to prosper. Thirdly, water is a very valuable resource. If he provides more for you, you should be thanking him.

How’s that for awesome proof that we’re slowly changing hearts and minds around the hemisphere and beyond? Thanks for this truly visionary article delivered to the best possible audience. Go read the whole thing and leave Steve a comment in praise of his writing.

Rusty Cohn from Napa sent me this AWESOME photo of a kit the other day and I new it belonged in our celebrations.


Tulocay beaver kit: Rusty Cohn


Finally, the beavers of the world told me to thank you for reading about them by giving you a good laugh. Back when Martinez decided to paint over the mural beaver our pettiness got national press. The best was a morning radio show in Chicago. I don’t think anything could be funnier, and believe me I listened a LOT when I was making the cartoon. Enjoy, remember this cautionary tail warning against truly bad decisions at the civic level and celebrate beavers!

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 - 2015Comments Off on The truth about the tooth

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 - 2015Comments Off on Brush with Destiny

<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