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 giant beaver. 

The giant beaver. 

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. 

Next Up

Anthony Edwards

Timberwolves smash Rockets in season opener

The Timberwolves showed they have plenty of firepower in a victory over Houston.

Knuth - Nezhad - side by side

Frey challengers Knuth, Nezhad agree to rank each other 2nd

They're urging supporters to do the same on Nov. 2.

Jerome Horton - Sherburne Co. Jail - CROP

Charges: Man lied to buy gun later used by St. Paul mass shooting suspect

He's accused of making false statements during the purchase of a firearm.

Screen Shot 2021-06-04 at 6.30.24 AM

BCA releases investigative file in Winston Smith's shooting death

The file contains 1,000 pages of documents, hundreds of photos and dozens of audio files.


Fire at Mpls. pizza joint weeks after opening, owners suspect arson

The owners arrived at work Tuesday to find the building on fire.

vaccine, covid

New COVID charts show hospitalization, death rates based on vaccine status

The unvaccinated are far more likely than the fully vaccinated to become hospitalized or die.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

White House begins process to ban new mining near BWCAW

The stated goal is to protect the "unique natural wonder" of the BWCAW.

Autumn Merrick, Autumn Rose Merrick

Man charged in shootout, crash that killed 18-year-old on scooter

Autumn Rose Merrick was with a friend near the Holiday gas station.


Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 9.23.56 AM

Science Museum working to choose Minnesota's official state fossil

The museum is also seeking recommendations from the public for a potential state fossil.


Science Museum of Minnesota will reopen Sept. 4

Museum members have gotten earlier access to exhibits.

Science Museum of Minnesota gets $1 million 'unrestricted' donation

An anonymous contributor donated the sum to the museum.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 10.01.35 AM

'Star Wars' fan? You'll want to head to the Science Museum this weekend

'The Nostalgia Awakens' opens at the Science Museum this weekend.

Hundreds laid off after closure of Science Museum, Children's Museum

The layoffs are temporary until the museums can re-open.


A lawmaker suggested giving Minnesota an official state soup

Rep. Nash offered the amendment to make a point in a humorous way and isn't intended to be taken seriously.

apostle islands

MN scientists discover new species at Lake Superior's Apostle Islands

The new species has a cell wall or shell made of biologically produced glass.