Buc-ee’s the beaver: Big, toothy prehistoric species named after beloved Texas chain

When thinking of animals that embody the spirit of Texas, one might picture the mighty steer or the hapless armadillo. But what about the steadfast beaver?

Researchers with the University of Texas rediscovered a large, toothy prehistoric species of beaver that once roamed the Lone Star state and decided to name it after one of Texas’ most beloved sons: Buc-ee.

Buc-ee’s gas stations dot Texas and have expanded into other states in recent years, bringing fuel, brisket and clean bathrooms to many a motorist — but now the buck-toothed mascot is being honored by the paleontological record, the University of Texas said in a March 27 news release.

Steve May, a research associate at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, was inspired while passing a Buc-ee’s billboard on the highway that stated, “This is Beaver Country.”

He couldn’t agree more.

“I thought, ‘Yeah, it is beaver country, and it has been for millions of years,’” May said in the news release.

The beaver species in question, dubbed Anchitheriomys buceei, would have called Texas home roughly 15 million years ago. Researchers say A. buceei was about 30% larger than a modern day beaver, weighing in at 57 pounds on average with the stature of a medium-sized dog.

The ancient beaver was significantly larger than modern day beavers.
The ancient beaver was significantly larger than modern day beavers.

And based on a reconstruction of its skull, the species sported a truly impressive set of teeth, perhaps big enough to overshadow Buc-ee himself.

While the fossil of A. buceei was first discovered in the early 1940s, the paleontologist studying the specimen died in 1945, before he was able to complete his work or assign a name.

May and his colleague Matthew Brown rediscovered the forgotten beaver 80 years later and continued where their predecessor left off.

“New discoveries in the field capture lots of attention, but equally as valuable are the discoveries made in existing museum collections,” Brown said. “We know that these opportunities are littered throughout the drawers in these cabinets.”

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