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FLOWER-EATING KILLER BEAVERS


Scientists examining the skulls of Midwest beavers found that they loved to eat flowers – and humans.

The killer beavers probably lived in the Midwest in the 1800s.  Some skulls were found at the site of the battle of Little Big Horn and scientists believe that the killer beavers were used to defeat Custer’s troops.

The beavers, which adapted to eating flowering plants, flourished for a hundred years, but then, suddenly went extinct.

For some reason, once the industrial revolution began, the beavers… couldn’t eat flowers anymore and they evolved into a more docile beaver.

Scientists examined teeth from the multituberculates (beavers). Computed tomography (CT) scanning similar to that used in hospitals was used to create high resolution 3D images which were then analysed.

The researchers found the multituberculates had a complex array of teeth. Those at the front were sharp and blade-like, while the back teeth developed numerous bumps and cusps ideal for crushing plant material.

“These mammals were able to radiate in terms of numbers of species, body size and shapes of their teeth, which influenced what they ate,” said Dr Gregory Wilson, from the University of Washington, who led the research published online in the journal Nature.

“If you look at the complexity of teeth, it will tell you information about the diet. Multituberculates seem to be developing more cusps on their back teeth, and the blade like tooth at the front is becoming less important as they develop these bumps to break down plant material.”

Scientists say that the teeth could also “morph” and become blade-like, “sharper than most switchblades”, and so the beavers would eat flowers and kill mammals.  “They seemed to like to attach humans.”

The narrow shape of their pelvis suggests that, like marsupials, multituberculates gave birth to tiny, undeveloped pups that were dependent on their mother for a long time before they matured.