The Giant Prehistoric Amphibious Beast Of Ohio

April 24th, 2014

By David Brown


Some people claim that Bigfoot roams through the forests of Northern California.

For hundreds of years people have told stories of seeing large reptilian creatures swimming in Lake Champlain in Vermont.  Despite many sightings and legends, nobody has found real scientific evidence that these creatures actually exist in the forests and lakes of North America.

There is real scientific evidence though that there was a giant creature that lived in both the lakes and forests of North America.  This creature’s scientific name is Castoroides ohioensis.  This creature is also known as the giant beaver.  It was the largest beaver that ever lived.  It grew up to eight feet long and weighed nearly 500 pounds.  It was as big as a black bear.


These giant beavers were the size of bears!


  Where The Giant Beaver Roamed


The giant beaver lived in many parts of North America.  It is known only from its bones because it went extinct at the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.  This period is known as the Pleistocene.  The bones of the giant beaver were first discovered in Ohio. This is why it is named “ohioensis.”

The giant beaver was probably amphibious like its modern cousin.  This means that it both lived in lakes and went out on land.   Scientists do not know if giant beavers had webbed feet and large flat tales like modern beavers. These body parts are not preserved like bones.  Scientists assume that the giant beavers probably did have tails and webbed feet though because they did swim in lakes.


Food and Lodging of the Giant Beaver


Dr. Catherine Yansa is a scientist who has studied what giant beavers ate.  The plants that the giant beaver ate left a specific kind of chemical trace on its teeth.  Dr. Yansa tested the chemical trace that the plants left on the giant beaver’s teeth.  Her chemical tests showed that the giant beavers probably were not eating trees like modern beavers do.  Giant beavers probably ate aquatic plants like pondweeds.

Modern beavers live in homes called lodges.  Lodges are domed houses that beavers build out of logs, sticks, and mud.  Scientists are not sure what kind of homes the giant beavers built, but Dr. Yansa has one idea.

“Although we have no proof, giant beaver probably didn’t build lodges. Their biology (their diet and the shape of their tail) suggest that they were more like giant muskrats and may have had excavated dens rather than built lodges. But again, we have no proof either way.”


Live giant beavers may not be around anymore, but people sometimes find their fossilized bones. Photo by Ninjatacoshell.


Why Are There No Giant Beavers Today?


Nobody knows for sure why giant beavers went extinct.  Many large animal species in North America and other parts of the world went extinct at the same time that the giant beavers did including mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant sloths.  Some people think that humans hunted these species to extinction.  Other people think that changes in ecosystems that these animals live in may have caused their extinction.  It is possible that these species went extinct for a combination of reasons including hunting by humans and changes in their habitats.

Sadly, there are no giant beavers left swimming in the lakes or roaming through the woods of North America.  Unlike Bigfoot though, we can be sure that the Giant Prehistoric Amphibious Beast of Ohio was real.




Getting To Know The Endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe

April 23rd, 2014
By David Brown


A group of Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) look out over the NgoroNgoro Crater. Photo by Gary.


Did you know that that there are different kinds of giraffes?  Scientists have identified nine different kinds of giraffes.  All of the types of giraffes live in Africa.  All of them have long necks and spots, but different types of giraffes have different kinds of spot patterns.


The Giraffe With White Stockings


The Rothschild’s giraffe is a type of giraffe that lives in the Great Rift Valley region of East Africa.

Lord Walter Rothschild was the first scientist to describe this giraffe after he saw them in East Africa in the late 1800s.  The Rothschild’s giraffe is also known as the Baringo giraffe because they were once found around Lake Baringo in Kenya.

The Rothschild’s giraffe has a specific type of coat pattern.  It has light brown patches with creamy lines in between.  Their most distinguishing feature is their white “stockings.”  Their legs are completely white with no markings from the hoof up to their knees.  No other types of giraffe wear white stockings like the Rothschild’s giraffes do.


This Rothschild’s giraffe shows off its white stockings. Photo by Saipal.


The Rothschild’s Giraffes Are Having Problems


Rothschild’s giraffe were once found in Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.

They are now extinct in Sudan, and live only in the Rift Valley area of Kenya and Uganda.  This area has very fertile soils and so a lot of people choose to live there and farm the land.  With good rainfall and a warm climate, the area is excellent for growing crops and raising livestock.

This farming activity means that any forests or trees in the area get cut down to make space for crops and domestic animals.  The giraffes in this area lose the places where they live.  The Rothschild’s giraffes have nowhere to go and their numbers have fallen as a result.

There are now fewer than 800 Rothschild’s giraffes left in Kenya and Uganda,

Giraffes evolved long necks to reach tree leaves, their favorite food. Photo by Daryona.


Learning About Rothschild’s Giraffes


Zoe Muller is a scientist who studies the Rothschild’s giraffes and works to find ways to protect them.  She explains what her work is about: “My project is carrying out research on practically everything there is to know about the Rothschild’s giraffe.  I am finding out what they eat, what kind of places they choose to live in, how they form groups and how they make friendships.  I am also looking at their distribution, past and present, and what steps need to be taken to ensure their conservation.”

Many of the children who live where the Rothschild’s giraffes do never get to see the giraffes and other wildlife that live in their country.  Zoe visits local schools and community groups to tell people about the Rothschild’s giraffe and why it is special.


Helping The Rothschild’s Giraffes Solve Their Problems


The main things that the Rothschild’s giraffes need to survive are protection of their habitat and increasing peoples’ awareness of how special these giraffes are.

Protection of the Rothschild’s giraffe’s habitat can only be done where they live in Kenya and Uganda, but anybody can help these giraffes by caring about them and spreading awareness of giraffe conservation.

Zoe has some advice for anyone wanting to help giraffe conservation:

“The biggest thing that people can do to help is to help spread the word about how endangered giraffes are in the wild, and let people know.  Ways of doing that include making posters about the Rothschild’s giraffe, perhaps doing a talk to your class or school, or writing a blog about them on the Internet.  Raising money for conservation projects also is a great help, for example raising funds by having a bake sale, or by taking part in a sponsored walk or organizing a sponsored movie night.  Every little helps!”

If enough people know and care about the Rothschild’s giraffes, hopefully they continue to wear their white stockings for a very long time into the future.


A Rothschild’s giraffe at Giraffe Manor in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.