Friday, July 13, 2012


Immature Mountain "Beaver", USGS
 Unlike many other prehistoric Animals, Mountain “Beaver” (Aplodontia rufa) is still with us.  She is neither a Beaver nor an inhabitant of the mountains; instead Mountain “Beaver” is the most primitive Rodent alive today.  In the Eocene epoch (about 44 million years ago), Her Family had split off from the Squirrel Family.  Since then, She lived in regions of North America that were moist with cool winters.
            Now found only the Pacific Northwest (where She has lived for nearly two million years), Mountain “Beaver” comes into conflict with people, since She eats their ornamental trees.  With her long claws, Mountain “Beaver” digs an extensive system of burrows for sleeping during the day.  Then at night, She ventures out to eat sword and bracken ferns, and to gnaw at the bark of trees for the green layer underneath.  Much of the time, people do not know that Mountain “Beaver” is there until She chews on their shrubs.
            What is remarkable about Mountain “Beaver” is that She has been on the earth for longer than forty million years.  (Most species only exist for one to ten million years.)  She has even survived the Eocene-Oligocene extinction event (Grande Coupure), which happened 33 million years ago. Nobody knows how or why Mountain “Beaver” survived for so long.  She has primitive kidneys and teeth, and does not do anything particularly well.  Therefore, many people believe that her continued survival is because of her good luck.
            The longevity of Mountain “Beaver” highlights the different kinds of luck.  Some luck is “dumb luck” that happens at random.  Other luck comes with the family or inherited by the individual.  The best sort of luck comes when we help others and they help us.  The kind of luck that Mountain “Beaver” has is the luck of persistence.  As long as She perseveres, Mountain “Beaver” will continue to be lucky.
            We can learn how luck occurs through Mountain “Beaver”.  Though She does bring bad luck to the unfortunate homeowner, many people do not even know that She lives on their property.  Usually, her burrowing helps to keep the soil healthy, so that homeowners can grow more beautiful plants.  Watch Mountain “Beaver” carefully, and She may show you her secret for being lucky.  Mountain “Beaver” creates her luck, and we can also by being proactive in our lives.

1 comment:

Laura Longley said...

Thank you for this kind and humorous post about the mountain "beaver." I saw one last week for the first time. You're right, I had never even heard of them, even though I've lived in the Northwest for 55 years. Thank you!