The Evolution of the Beaver

By Dolores Kimball

While walking in the park yesterday, my husband and I saw a beaver dam on the stream, and we began discussing the evolution of the beaver. What, we wondered, were the steps the beaver took over the zillions of years of evolution to become the construction experts they are today? How exactly did the first beaver stumble upon the blueprint for the first dam? How many beavers over how many millennia tried to build a dam and failed, only to freeze in winter or be devoured by predators before the first dam was constructed?

At what point did the beaver's front teeth evolve to where gnawing down saplings became an option for him? And how did he know that would be a good idea in the first place? And how many trees were felled before one beaver had the idea to lay a bunch of them across a stream to dam up the water? And, assuming that one beaver did come up with the idea, what cognitive thought process was involved? ‘Say, I have an idea! Maybe if I lay all these trees across the stream, slap some mud on them and build an entryway underwater, I will have a nice snug place to spend the winter and raise a bunch of baby beavers!' I can just imagine him finding a beaverette and trying to sell that plan to her. ‘Right, bub, you go build your dam. Leave me to my nice warm den in the hillside.'

Assuming the evolutionary scenario is correct, how do baby beavers learn how to construct these engineering marvels and what motivates them to do so? They certainly don't learn by watching Dad build their home because it's already built by the time they are born. Do they swim to another part of the forest and watch other beavers building their dams? Even if they did, could the incredible number of skills necessary to erect such an edifice be obtained simply by observation?

I admit to being scientifically challenged, but I have no shortage of common sense. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that every beaver, beginning with the first one created in the Garden of Eden, is born with the desire to build a dam, the know-how and necessary tools such as those razor-sharp little teeth, and the elaborate blueprints, diagrams, and charts needed to assemble the perfect dam to accommodate him and his family—all packed into his genetic code by the Great Designer. Such incredible complexity couldn't possibly have evolved, no matter how much time is involved. Time simply doesn't equate to complexity. The evolutionists would have us believe that if a chimpanzee is placed in front of a typewriter for a few billion years, he would eventually type out the entire manuscript of Moby Dick, simply by chance. To believe that kind of logic takes a lot more faith than I can muster up.

Image Credit: Steve; "Happy Beaver"; Creative Commons

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Published 2-28-2012