A beaver the size of a small bear is in the running to be Minnesota's official fossil.
The Science Museum of Minnesota has been leading the effort to have an official state fossil in Minnesota. (Minnesota is one of just seven states that doesn't have one.)
The museum pitched several of its own candidates and took recommendations from Minnesotans before holding a vote. And on Wednesday — National Fossil Day — the museum announced the winner: the giant beaver, or Castorioides ohioensis, which was found in St. Paul.
The giant beaver was added as a write-in candidate in the museum's campaign. The large rodent captured 25% of the votes among the nine fossil candidates, edging out the next highest vote-getter by more than 1,000 votes, the museum said in a news release.
Nearly 11,500 votes were cast from people across Minnesota.
Alex Hastings, Science Museum of Minnesota Fitzpatrick Chair of Paleontology, is "confident" the voting process will lead to the state Legislature declaring the giant beaver the official state fossil.
What is a giant beaver?
The giant beaver probably looked a lot like modern beavers with buck teeth and an aquatic lifestyle when it lived in the Twin Cities and Freeborn County 2.58 million years to 10,150 years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch.
However, different from the beavers that like in Minnesota today, the giant beaver was, well, giant. It was the size of a small bear, weighing over 200 pounds.
A fossil of the giant beaver found in St. Paul is on display at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Minnesotans have an "affinity" for the fossil. In 1988, state legislators proposed the giant beaver fossil as the state's fossil, but it didn't make it through the legislative process.