Thursday, 2 April 2009

Beavers: I'll be dammed!

You don’t often hear it for the modest, hard-working little beaver. That’s because they are , well, modest and hardworking. Lacking the glamour of, say, the cat family, they shun publicity and devote their time to building dams and houses – Zaha Hadid move over! The talent of the beaver is truly jaw dropping – you might add tree lopping to that. Using nothing but their teeth, they gnaw the trunk of a tree until that critical moment that every lumberjack knows; the trunk breaks and crashes down onto the ground. Then, beaver sets to work on newly-fallen tree, gnawing it into logs and chewing off the branches.

Using his skill as an underwater swimmer and navigator, beaver drags his material and inserts it into just the right area of his own dam to prevent the breaches and floods that might follow. Beaver lives in his lodge, again built by himself, address ‘Penthouse upon Dam’, together with Mrs Beaver and the little beavers. Some years ago, doyens of a television creature-feature placed a movie camera inside a beaver lodge. But a clever inmate came along, peered into the lens and, knowing an intrusion had happened, covered the alien eye with a branch – no Big Beaver House on television that year.

Truly, you cannot say too much in favour of this awesome little creature. What I want to know is, at what stage of evolution did they, their brains hard wired for tree lopping, building design, repair and maintenance, underwater swimming, detecting movie cameras, decide not to evolve any further? It’s my guess they stopped this evolution thing when some bright beaver realised the danger of giving rise to a race of Boris Johnson humanoid look-alikes.

We ought to be grateful for such a decision, else they would have built us all off the planet. Let’s give these enterprising little architects their rightful recognition, now.

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