With unique fish-like tails, chainsaw teeth, a pungent musk, and astonishing building skills, beavers are unlike any other creature in the world. Not surprisingly, the extraordinary beaver has played a fascinating role in human history and has inspired a rich cultural tradition for millennia. In Beaver, Rachel Poliquin explores four exceptional beaver features: beaver musk, beaver fur, beaver architecture, and beaver ecology, tracing the long evolutionary history of the two living species and revealing them to be survivors capable of withstanding ice ages, major droughts, and all predators, except one: humans.
Widely hunted for their fur, beavers were a driving force behind the colonization of North America and remain, today, Canada’s national symbol. Poliquin examines depictions of beavers in Aesop’s Fables, American mythology, contemporary art, and environmental politics, and she explores the fact and fictions of beaver chain gangs, beaver-flavored ice cream, and South America’s ever-growing beaver population. And yes, she even examines the history of the sexual euphemism. Poliquin delights in the strange tales and improbable history of the beaver. Written in an accessible style for a broad readership, this beautifully illustrated book will appeal to anyone who enjoys long-forgotten animal lore and extraordinary animal biology.