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Extinction: The Call of the Giant Beaver
Episode 1222nd August 2022 • Making a Monster • Lucas Zellers
00:00:00 00:59:54

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The size of a black bear, this Ice Age giant didn't build dams, but it guarded the water with a fearsome call just the same. Meet the world's most complete fossil giant beaver with Heather Lerner, the ancient DNA expert who brought her to life!

Get three extinct animals raised to life as monsters in D&D: https://www.scintilla.studio/extinction

Episode transcript: https://scintilla.studio/monster-extinction-giant-beaver/

Guides:

Dr. Heather Lerner, Curator of the Joseph Moore Museum

https://twitter.com/moore_museum

Join the conversation: www.twitter.com/SparkOtter

"Extinction Theme" by Alex Monroe, the Boy King of Idaho

Transcripts

Heather Lerner:

This is the tooth.

Lucas:

That's the tooth?!?

Heather Lerner:

That is one tooth.

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Lucas:

This is the left encisor.

Lucas:

It is the size of a banana

Heather Lerner:

Big banana.

Heather Lerner:

You're looking at this and thinking

Heather Lerner:

with the size of teeth like that, I

Heather Lerner:

could take down some big trees.

Heather Lerner:

Right?

Heather Lerner:

Are you thinking that?

Lucas:

I am well, I am now.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

Well, you shouldn't be

Heather Lerner:

thinking that cuz that's wrong.

Heather Lerner:

I was mean right?

Lucas:

Ah,

Heather Lerner:

here she is.

Heather Lerner:

Wait,

Lucas:

What?

Lucas:

Ah!

Lucas:

This one right here?

Heather Lerner:

I love this orientation.

Heather Lerner:

She is coming right at you.

Lucas:

Welcome to Making a Monster:

Lucas:

Extinction, investigating the stories

Lucas:

of vanished species as we gather

Lucas:

them into a bestiary for 5th edition

Lucas:

Dungeons & Dragons called Book of

Lucas:

Extinction, coming to Kickstarter

Lucas:

in March of 2023 and previewing

Lucas:

now on the Mage Hand Press Patreon.

Lucas:

This is the sound of GenCon, where I spent

Lucas:

this last weekend sharing the book with

Lucas:

gamers and makers from all over the world.

Lucas:

But tucked away not too far from

Lucas:

the biggest 4 days in gaming is a

Lucas:

surprising gem of natural history.

Lucas:

Welcome to Richmond,

Lucas:

Indiana podcast listener.

Lucas:

I'm here on the trail of an ice age giant.

Lucas:

We're at the Joseph Moore

Lucas:

Museum at Earlham College.

Lucas:

Prehistoric megafauna are an integral

Lucas:

part of the fantasy genre, giant monsters

Lucas:

who awaken the kind of fear humans

Lucas:

only feel in the presence of an apex

Lucas:

predator more powerful than themselves.

Lucas:

This week I want to introduce you to

Lucas:

one of the most unexpectedly fascinating

Lucas:

creatures among that pantheon of ice

Lucas:

age beasts and her fascinating journey

Lucas:

through near time alongside an Egyptian

Lucas:

mummy, a mastodon, and maybe the most

Lucas:

dedicated graduate students in history.

Lucas:

Our guide on this journey

Lucas:

is Doctor Heather Lerner.

Heather Lerner:

So I'm Heather Lerner.

Heather Lerner:

I'm the director of the Joseph

Heather Lerner:

Moore Museum, which is a regional

Heather Lerner:

natural history museum at Earlham

Heather Lerner:

College; also an associate professor

Heather Lerner:

of biology and museum studies.

Heather Lerner:

I was recruited from the Smithsonian

Heather Lerner:

where I was working in ancient DNA.

Heather Lerner:

And I came out here for an interview and

Heather Lerner:

got to go into the museum and see the

Heather Lerner:

world's most complete fossil giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

And I will confess at that

Heather Lerner:

moment, I was, let's see, eight

Heather Lerner:

months pregnant with twins.

Heather Lerner:

And I thought the giant beaver

Heather Lerner:

was pretty cool, but I mostly

Heather Lerner:

identified with the giant ground

Heather Lerner:

sloth , which, um, was not exactly

Heather Lerner:

the reaction they were looking for.

Lucas:

Heather gave me an inside

Lucas:

tour of the Joseph Moore Museum,

Lucas:

including a lot of stuff the

Lucas:

general public doesn't get to see.

Lucas:

And in the interest of better

Lucas:

understanding the ancient megafauna in

Lucas:

Book of Extinction, Heather will introduce

Lucas:

us to the giant beaver in the order in

Lucas:

which a scientist of her caliber would

Lucas:

- starting with today and working backward

Heather Lerner:

The giant beaver

Heather Lerner:

is just an incredible creature.

Heather Lerner:

And from the first moment that

Heather Lerner:

I knew about it in my interview

Heather Lerner:

here, I thought, "I know how to

Heather Lerner:

get DNA out of really old things.

Heather Lerner:

And I would love the challenge

Heather Lerner:

of trying to sequence DNA from

Heather Lerner:

the extinct giant beaver and see

Heather Lerner:

what we could learn from that."

Heather Lerner:

So I started there and then

Heather Lerner:

started thinking, well, what,

Heather Lerner:

why would that be useful?

Heather Lerner:

Just cuz you can do something

Heather Lerner:

doesn't mean you should do something,

Heather Lerner:

which I have to tell my children.

Heather Lerner:

just cuz you can doesn't mean you should.

Heather Lerner:

Um, so I spent a while really

Heather Lerner:

learning about beavers.

Heather Lerner:

so we know there are two

Heather Lerner:

species today of modern beavers.

Heather Lerner:

There's the North American and the

Heather Lerner:

Eurasian, they're closely related

Heather Lerner:

to each other and to nothing

Heather Lerner:

else , which makes it very hard to

Heather Lerner:

figure out things about their past.

Heather Lerner:

Why do they look the way they do?

Heather Lerner:

Why do they do the things they do?

Heather Lerner:

If we don't have that evolutionary

Heather Lerner:

record, it just really hinders the

Heather Lerner:

explanations that we can come up with.

Heather Lerner:

So, um, one of the things you can do

Heather Lerner:

to try to figure out close relatives

Heather Lerner:

is to add in extinct species.

Heather Lerner:

And it turns out that what beavers

Heather Lerner:

are closely related to are a lot

Heather Lerner:

of other extinct species , um,

Heather Lerner:

which includes the giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

And the giant beaver is pretty cool

Heather Lerner:

because it's part of the group of beavers

Heather Lerner:

that you would be more familiar with in

Heather Lerner:

terms of living an aquatic lifestyle.

Heather Lerner:

That's what you think of when

Heather Lerner:

you think of beavers, right?

Heather Lerner:

Ponds, streams, that kind of thing.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

Um, it turns out this is super cool.

Heather Lerner:

There's a whole group of extinct

Heather Lerner:

beavers that are called fossorial

Heather Lerner:

or upland digging beavers.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

Who knew?

Heather Lerner:

It turns out people

Heather Lerner:

who study fossils know.

Heather Lerner:

So, um, there are maybe seven to

Heather Lerner:

twelve genera of extinct fossorial,

Heather Lerner:

terrestrial, upland, burrowing, beavers.

Heather Lerner:

And they go back far enough in

Heather Lerner:

time that we are not probably

Heather Lerner:

gonna get DNA out of them.

Heather Lerner:

so figuring out those relationships

Heather Lerner:

is probably in terms of using

Heather Lerner:

DNA, a loss cause, but Casteroides

Heather Lerner:

ohioensis the giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

Was around until not that long ago.

Heather Lerner:

So maybe 10,000 years ago.

Heather Lerner:

And that is a tractable question

Heather Lerner:

using ancient DNA techniques.

Heather Lerner:

That's a timeline in which

Heather Lerner:

things are preserved well

Heather Lerner:

enough that you can get DNA.

Heather Lerner:

So we set about trying to sequence

Heather Lerner:

the giant beaver to help us figure

Heather Lerner:

out those relationships in particular,

Heather Lerner:

when did beavers become aquatic?

Heather Lerner:

Since we know there's this whole Upland

Heather Lerner:

group, when did this thing that we

Heather Lerner:

associate with beavers become true.

Heather Lerner:

So you can use lots of clues, like, um,

Heather Lerner:

their body shape from the extinct species

Heather Lerner:

and sort of piece things together there.

Heather Lerner:

But unless, you know, when those

Heather Lerner:

species really lived, it can be hard

Heather Lerner:

to get that timeline of evolution.

Heather Lerner:

So using DNA, we can really anchor

Heather Lerner:

that those trait evolutions in time.

Heather Lerner:

So that's what we did.

Heather Lerner:

We sequenced the mitochondrial genome,

Heather Lerner:

um, of the extinct beaver and,

Heather Lerner:

um, we're able to figure this out.

Lucas:

I just want, I just wanna

Lucas:

pause on how cool that sentence is.

Lucas:

That's an incredible amount of work.

Heather Lerner:

It was

Heather Lerner:

years in the making.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah, so first we spent a year building

Heather Lerner:

an ancient DNA lab here, which meant

Heather Lerner:

all the physical labor of cleaning

Heather Lerner:

out an entire room and taking every,

Heather Lerner:

everything out of there all like

Heather Lerner:

demolition work, plus painting everything

Heather Lerner:

and, uh, trying to get it to be a

Heather Lerner:

safe place to look at ancient DNA.

Heather Lerner:

Because it turns out that we

Heather Lerner:

are shedding DNA all the time.

Heather Lerner:

as we walk around, we are just

Heather Lerner:

discarding our DNA everywhere.

Heather Lerner:

So if you wanna work on old things that

Heather Lerner:

don't have a lot of their own DNA, you

Heather Lerner:

don't wanna be adding your DNA to the mix.

Heather Lerner:

I did not wanna sequence myself.

Heather Lerner:

We wanted to sequence giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

So we needed that ancient DNA room.

Heather Lerner:

So we spent a year doing

Heather Lerner:

that, got that done.

Heather Lerner:

And then we were gonna start the process

Heather Lerner:

of taking the fossils, using a drummer

Heather Lerner:

and drilling out the hardest pieces of the

Heather Lerner:

fossils, which would be the pieces that

Heather Lerner:

had the most resistance to degradation.

Heather Lerner:

So they might have the best DNA in there.

Heather Lerner:

Most intact.

Heather Lerner:

We wanted to start that process and

Heather Lerner:

there was a two week power outage.

Heather Lerner:

We only had three weeks set to be together

Heather Lerner:

to work on the project for that summer.

Heather Lerner:

And that was two thirds of our.

Heather Lerner:

Wow.

Heather Lerner:

So we didn't do it that year we

Heather Lerner:

ended up working on raptors instead,

Heather Lerner:

which was a great fun project.

Heather Lerner:

Um, but it did delay us a couple of

Heather Lerner:

years to be able to, to be able to do

Heather Lerner:

that process but it gave us time to

Heather Lerner:

learn more about beavers because it

Heather Lerner:

turns out there's lots to know which

Heather Lerner:

I'm very excited that you want to

Heather Lerner:

know all about beavers you do, right?

Lucas:

I do.

Lucas:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

Okay, good.

Lucas:

That's what I'm here for.

Heather Lerner:

That's great.

Heather Lerner:

we're gonna have a great time.

Heather Lerner:

So I'm gonna take you

Heather Lerner:

into the collections.

Heather Lerner:

We'll start with the modern beaver

Heather Lerner:

just to kind of orient you and then

Heather Lerner:

we'll take some of those things

Heather Lerner:

with us and go find the fossils.

Lucas:

Perfect.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

Let's do it.

Lucas:

Great!

Heather Lerner:

So the room

Heather Lerner:

we're in is the mammal division.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and we have, oh, maybe five

Heather Lerner:

or 6,000 mammal specimens in here.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

It doesn't, you just look like that.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

. Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And that's because the way that we

Heather Lerner:

prepare them is to, um, we remove

Heather Lerner:

all the insides and then we keep the

Heather Lerner:

skins preserved and then we put the

Heather Lerner:

fossil or the skeletons in a box.

Heather Lerner:

So it's all very tight and compact.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

You, when you're thinking of museums are

Heather Lerner:

thinking of taxidermy, which is posed

Heather Lerner:

animals, so that they look lifelike

Heather Lerner:

and that's an art form, and that is

Heather Lerner:

amazing and important, but I can't

Heather Lerner:

fit a lot of those posed puffed up

Heather Lerner:

animals in this room, this size, right?

Heather Lerner:

So we, we have study skins and there

Heather Lerner:

are, you know, depending on the

Heather Lerner:

size of the animal, there can be

Heather Lerner:

a hundred of 'em on a single tray.

Heather Lerner:

So we are gonna go look for

Heather Lerner:

Castor canadensis which is

Heather Lerner:

the modern beaver, right.

Heather Lerner:

So that you can see it and touch it.

Heather Lerner:

Yes.

Lucas:

Okay.

Lucas:

I get to touch stuff.

Lucas:

Okay.

Lucas:

Whoa.

Heather Lerner:

We're gonna take

Heather Lerner:

this out and put it over here.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

So this is a tray that has

Heather Lerner:

a modern beaver pelt on it.

Heather Lerner:

So it's just kind of folded

Heather Lerner:

up like a little blanket.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and you can see the tail here

Heather Lerner:

on top can see that leather really

Heather Lerner:

tail . Yes, we are excited about the

Heather Lerner:

giant beaver, but it turns out modern

Heather Lerner:

beavers are fairly big themselves.

Heather Lerner:

Big . So what I want you to notice,

Heather Lerner:

because you did wash your hands,

Heather Lerner:

so I'm gonna allow you to touch it.

Lucas:

Thank you.

Heather Lerner:

You can feel that

Heather Lerner:

fur, what do you think of the fur?

Lucas:

Oh man.

Lucas:

Nowhere in my life, have I ever laid a

Lucas:

hand on mink, but I know that aquatic

Lucas:

animals have a hugely different

Lucas:

fur to, uh, to terrestrial animals.

Lucas:

Exactly.

Lucas:

Um, so we've got two different

Lucas:

lengths and textures here.

Lucas:

Already, um, kind a

Heather Lerner:

Got that

Heather Lerner:

guard fur on the outside,

Heather Lerner:

. Lucas: And then a softer, it's so plush

Heather Lerner:

underneath , I'm getting chills cuz

Heather Lerner:

that's the kind of weirdo that I am like.

Heather Lerner:

And I think you can

Heather Lerner:

really identify with the people who

Heather Lerner:

were trapping and selling beaver pelts.

Heather Lerner:

This is incredibly warm, resilient, fur.

Heather Lerner:

This is gonna get you through a winter

Heather Lerner:

and winters were harsh, and we didn't

Heather Lerner:

have access to all sorts of materials to

Heather Lerner:

keep warm and protected from the elements.

Heather Lerner:

It was a major concern.

Heather Lerner:

And so just feeling this, I think you can

Heather Lerner:

understand why they were so desirable,

Heather Lerner:

but also just with them being so

Heather Lerner:

desirable, why beavers faced such threats.

Heather Lerner:

Um, so I wanted you to feel that.

Heather Lerner:

The other thing I wanted to show you

Heather Lerner:

is something that I learned when we

Heather Lerner:

spent all this extra time learning

Heather Lerner:

about beavers before sequencing.

Heather Lerner:

They do have this amazing thing

Heather Lerner:

and it's on their hind feet.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and it's this adaptation

Heather Lerner:

to two of their toes.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and so this first toe here,

Heather Lerner:

so there's this fleshy pad and

Heather Lerner:

then there's this, this nail.

Heather Lerner:

And what happens is when they, when

Heather Lerner:

they bend their, their paw like this,

Heather Lerner:

they trap their fur in between there.

Heather Lerner:

And it's a comb and they do

Heather Lerner:

that with this one as well.

Heather Lerner:

And it's not as easily.

Heather Lerner:

No, here it is.

Heather Lerner:

Is that it?

Heather Lerner:

Here it is.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

It's this one that has the

Heather Lerner:

big fleshy pad and the claw.

Heather Lerner:

And so it can squeeze that.

Lucas:

So it's that the claw is the

Lucas:

same, uh, or rather the opposite,

Lucas:

um, concave shape to the pads.

Lucas:

Convex.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

So they nest within each other.

Heather Lerner:

If you like, take your pointer finger

Heather Lerner:

from each hand and sort of make a

Heather Lerner:

little arc and attach them to each

Heather Lerner:

other and you can squeeze between that.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

And as they bend their, um, they flex that

Heather Lerner:

squeezes, the pad against the, against the

Heather Lerner:

nail your pad is attached to your nail.

Heather Lerner:

You're not gonna run something between

Heather Lerner:

your pad and your nail on your finger.

Heather Lerner:

Huh.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

Like you're not gonna, I mean, you

Heather Lerner:

might run your fingers through your

Heather Lerner:

hair but imagine if you could flex

Heather Lerner:

down and actually turn that into a

Heather Lerner:

tight comb, that's what they're doing.

Heather Lerner:

Amazing.

Heather Lerner:

And they do that with both of those toes.

Heather Lerner:

So that one that has the fleshy

Heather Lerner:

pad and the nail, and then this

Heather Lerner:

one that has like a split nail.

Heather Lerner:

So there's a hard piece

Heather Lerner:

here and a hard piece there.

Heather Lerner:

And, and, you know, That's

Heather Lerner:

gonna do different things.

Heather Lerner:

It's like two different types of comb

Heather Lerner:

that they have so they can spread

Heather Lerner:

oil and they can remove debris and

Heather Lerner:

clean themselves, essentially with this

Heather Lerner:

little tool that's on their hind feet.

Lucas:

In terms of, I guess, yardage,

Lucas:

if we're thinking about textiles.

Lucas:

Hmm.

Lucas:

Um, how much would you get from one?

Heather Lerner:

That's a good question.

Heather Lerner:

A little more than a

Heather Lerner:

yard and it's doubled over.

Heather Lerner:

So I'd say about a yard of fabric.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

Amazing from just that one individual.

Heather Lerner:

And this does look like an adult.

Heather Lerner:

It is, it was a good

Heather Lerner:

size and it was a male.

Heather Lerner:

its weight was 57 pounds, 12 ounces.

Heather Lerner:

Its total length was 46 and a half inches.

Heather Lerner:

So that's pretty long.

Heather Lerner:

Wow.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

So we record information about the

Heather Lerner:

animals when we collect them as much as

Heather Lerner:

we possibly can, because like I said,

Heather Lerner:

you can't go back and get that later.

Heather Lerner:

So any information we have about the

Heather Lerner:

habitat, it was in the things, it was

Heather Lerner:

doing photographs, video recordings,

Heather Lerner:

um, measurements, anything we can

Heather Lerner:

get, we will keep with the animals

Heather Lerner:

so that we have the most information.

Lucas:

So then there's a

Lucas:

digital record that's attached

Lucas:

to this particular specimen.

Lucas:

Incredible.

Heather Lerner:

And like I said, we, in

Heather Lerner:

addition to having the skin that you've

Heather Lerner:

just been looking at or the pelt, um, we

Heather Lerner:

also try to keep, um, the skeleton and so

Heather Lerner:

this box has the skull for this one in it.

Heather Lerner:

Oh

Lucas:

wow.

Lucas:

I wasn't ready for this.

Heather Lerner:

So you can.

Heather Lerner:

Re-articulate the jaws there.

Heather Lerner:

And then you can see the, see that skull.

Lucas:

Amazing.

Heather Lerner:

So that's a chomping.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And you can see the teeth here,

Heather Lerner:

have this orange across them in the

Heather Lerner:

front , um, that's probably related

Heather Lerner:

to some iron deposit there and that's

Heather Lerner:

common in rodents, um, to have that.

Heather Lerner:

And that gives it real firm firmness to

Heather Lerner:

the teeth that even our teeth don't have.

Heather Lerner:

We have enamel, but we don't have

Heather Lerner:

that particular hard structure.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and that is so it's taking

Lucas:

iron from its environment and it's,

Heather Lerner:

it's sequestering it

Heather Lerner:

there yeah, we, we keep the iron in

Heather Lerner:

our blood and they probably have iron in

Heather Lerner:

their blood too, of course, being mammals.

Heather Lerner:

But, um, they must be depositing

Heather Lerner:

some of their teeth too.

Lucas:

That's incredible.

Lucas:

They have metal teeth, you're telling me?

Heather Lerner:

Yeah, basically.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

That's a good way of thinking of it.

Heather Lerner:

Yes, that is correct.

Heather Lerner:

yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And that really, um, provides that

Heather Lerner:

strength that they need for all

Heather Lerner:

of the chewing that they would do.

Heather Lerner:

Um, So I'm gonna put this back and we're

Heather Lerner:

actually gonna take one of these skulls

Heather Lerner:

with us and go find the skulls that

Heather Lerner:

we have of the extinct giant beavers.

Heather Lerner:

So you can see those right together

Heather Lerner:

and we will eventually make it to the

Heather Lerner:

world's most complete fossil giant beaver.

Lucas:

Let me paint another picture

Lucas:

here because we, this looks like

Lucas:

somebody's garage, but a garage that

Lucas:

they would've spent a lot of time in

Lucas:

and there are long, low tables in it.

Lucas:

And, uh, more of the filing

Lucas:

cabinets around the walls.

Lucas:

I'll also state for the record.

Lucas:

One of these cabinets is

Lucas:

labeled dinosaur bones.

Lucas:

yes.

Lucas:

You know, I need a career change.

Lucas:

six year old me would've

Lucas:

been losing his mind.

Heather Lerner:

This entire cabinet

Heather Lerner:

is dedicated to our giant beaver

Heather Lerner:

to the most complete, and this

Heather Lerner:

holds a copy of every bone in it.

Heather Lerner:

So these are,

Lucas:

It's the best jigsaw puzzle!

Heather Lerner:

It is.

Heather Lerner:

It's actually really fun to put together.

Heather Lerner:

Done that a few times.

Heather Lerner:

Um, so this is the first

Heather Lerner:

copy that we ever made.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and it is made from creating

Heather Lerner:

molds of each individual bone.

Heather Lerner:

Um, except for the feet

Heather Lerner:

we did those all together.

Heather Lerner:

So many little bones in a foot, right?

Heather Lerner:

And if you go find a giant beaver in

Heather Lerner:

another museum, it's potentially a copy of

Heather Lerner:

ours because we cast it in the 1980s, and

Heather Lerner:

then many museums got copies from that.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

And then we also created a new copy

Heather Lerner:

of it a few years ago with the help of

Heather Lerner:

two researchers who were then at the

Heather Lerner:

Virginia Museum of Natural History who

Heather Lerner:

came here and we made all new molds

Heather Lerner:

because molds deteriorate over time.

Heather Lerner:

And so do copies, um, and

Heather Lerner:

some things had changed.

Heather Lerner:

We needed to modify the skull a little

Heather Lerner:

bit because it had been built up.

Heather Lerner:

On our original, some clay had been added

Heather Lerner:

and we needed to change that because

Heather Lerner:

after finding more skulls, we knew

Heather Lerner:

that some of the sutures were wrong.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

So in your skull, you have different bones

Heather Lerner:

that come together to form that, right?

Heather Lerner:

And they fuse together as

Heather Lerner:

you grow and stop growing.

Heather Lerner:

Once you stop growing, they fuse together.

Heather Lerner:

So those lines we guessed

Heather Lerner:

at based on modern beavers.

Heather Lerner:

And it turns out when we found war

Heather Lerner:

fossil skulls, we needed to change

Heather Lerner:

that because they were not correct.

Heather Lerner:

So this entire cabinet here is a copy

Lucas:

and I'm gonna look, it

Lucas:

would've been plaster of Paris.

Lucas:

Uh,

Heather Lerner:

yeah, probably.

Lucas:

Yeah.

Lucas:

And now we're working in,

Lucas:

in silicone or, or 3d,

Heather Lerner:

We've

Heather Lerner:

done two different things.

Heather Lerner:

One is that we are using silicone

Heather Lerner:

molds, um, and then casting in resin.

Heather Lerner:

Um, the other thing is that, so if you

Heather Lerner:

come and play our giant beaver escape

Heather Lerner:

game, which I know you would love, um,

Heather Lerner:

you actually get to handle some of the

Heather Lerner:

copies and those copies used to be cast,

Heather Lerner:

which are very good for research, right?

Heather Lerner:

They are very high quality,

Heather Lerner:

scientifically accurate.

Heather Lerner:

The kind of thing I will study off of

Heather Lerner:

rather than bother the specimen itself.

Heather Lerner:

And one of those disappeared.

Heather Lerner:

So just a few weeks ago, we 3d,

Heather Lerner:

scanned and printed copies because

Heather Lerner:

now we can always reprint, but

Heather Lerner:

the molds deteriorate over time.

Heather Lerner:

And in fact, we don't have the molds

Heather Lerner:

here, so I can't just make a backup copy.

Heather Lerner:

Now that that one piece is gone.

Heather Lerner:

Huh?

Heather Lerner:

I'm gonna get into this cabinet here.

Heather Lerner:

And I should be able to show you

Heather Lerner:

the one that we actually sequence.

Heather Lerner:

So in here you'll see

Heather Lerner:

that we sampled for DNA.

Lucas:

whoa.

Heather Lerner:

So anytime we

Heather Lerner:

do something, we put a note in.

Lucas:

So round plug, meaning that

Lucas:

you drilled a very, very small, uh,

Heather Lerner:

almost like a core sample.

Heather Lerner:

Exactly.

Heather Lerner:

So, so

Lucas:

then you would have a

Lucas:

tiny rod of, uh, fossil material.

Lucas:

, uh, not just like drilling it out and then

Lucas:

sort of taking the fossil saw dust, but

Heather Lerner:

rather a

Heather Lerner:

whole take the actual plug.

Heather Lerner:

We do grind it up then, but we do

Heather Lerner:

take the plug . And one of the reasons

Heather Lerner:

you're trying to do that plug is that

Heather Lerner:

you wanna get past the really hard

Heather Lerner:

enamel on the outside of the teeth

Heather Lerner:

into the soft protected material

Heather Lerner:

where the DNA should be preserved.

Heather Lerner:

And what's very cool about teeth is

Heather Lerner:

that it's one of the few places in your

Heather Lerner:

body that you retain pluripotent cells.

Heather Lerner:

So cells that can become anything.

Heather Lerner:

Cells that are very open to suggestion.

Heather Lerner:

They generally don't do anything else, but

Heather Lerner:

you know, whatever they do in your teeth.

Heather Lerner:

Um, but if you need cells that are

Heather Lerner:

activate-able, that's a place to get them.

Heather Lerner:

And what that does mean is that

Heather Lerner:

they are less, um, less bound up.

Heather Lerner:

And so that DNA can be super good.

Heather Lerner:

And it means that there's

Heather Lerner:

a lot of DNA in there.

Heather Lerner:

So that's why we're aiming for teeth.

Heather Lerner:

This I believe is the one that we got

Heather Lerner:

DNA out of, which is somewhat surprising.

Heather Lerner:

You see, we sampled it on the

Heather Lerner:

14th of May, 2015, Micha Ahmed and

Heather Lerner:

Jacob Paris and me, they get their

Heather Lerner:

names written out and I'm just HRL.

Heather Lerner:

So that's the one that we got,

Heather Lerner:

uh, two thirds of the genome

Heather Lerner:

from, the mitochondrial genome.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And actually this is the ulna,

Heather Lerner:

the tooth did not end up working.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

And what what's interesting about

Heather Lerner:

that is we did a lot of work trying to

Heather Lerner:

figure out exactly where we would have

Heather Lerner:

the most, the highest likelihood of,

Heather Lerner:

um, getting DNA and what turned out

Heather Lerner:

to happen is that wasn't so useful?

Heather Lerner:

The most important thing was it

Heather Lerner:

was collected more recently, which

Heather Lerner:

meant that it had had less time out

Heather Lerner:

of its deposition environment to

Heather Lerner:

accumulate damage or to deteriorate.

Heather Lerner:

So like I said, we're trying to keep

Heather Lerner:

things so that stable temperature

Heather Lerner:

and humidity, because when you have

Heather Lerner:

fluctuations is when DNA gets damaged.

Heather Lerner:

Well, we don't really have stable,

Heather Lerner:

uh, temperature and humidity here.

Heather Lerner:

And so over time, things just deteriorate.

Heather Lerner:

Um, so one of the things we're

Heather Lerner:

really actively working on trying

Heather Lerner:

to improve conditions so that

Heather Lerner:

things will be useful for longer.

Heather Lerner:

So the most recently collected specimen

Heather Lerner:

is the one that worked , but I know

Heather Lerner:

an awful lot about DNA preservation.

Heather Lerner:

So let's take this one over.

Heather Lerner:

This is the tooth.

Lucas:

That's the tooth?!?

Heather Lerner:

That is one tooth.

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Lucas:

This is the left encisor.

Lucas:

It is the size of a banana

Heather Lerner:

Big banana.

Heather Lerner:

Thin, but very long.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

So let's just do this for a second.

Heather Lerner:

We want you to see the

Heather Lerner:

modern beaver, right.

Heather Lerner:

You remember with the

Heather Lerner:

little chompers, right?

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

And then let's put that

Heather Lerner:

next to the giant beaver.

Lucas:

This skull came from a four foot

Lucas:

50 pound beaver, and yet it is, um, the

Lucas:

size of two clenched fists, I would say.

Heather Lerner:

Well, it

Heather Lerner:

fits in my outstretched hand.

Heather Lerner:

Right?

, Lucas:

you know, the base of the skull

, Lucas:

is at the base of your Palm and the tip

, Lucas:

of the nose is at your index finger.

, Lucas:

Yeah.

, Lucas:

And then this one.

Heather Lerner:

Like we don't

Heather Lerner:

watch it like a football here.

Heather Lerner:

You're looking at this and thinking

Heather Lerner:

with the size of teeth like that, I

Heather Lerner:

could take down some big trees.

Heather Lerner:

Right?

Heather Lerner:

Are you thinking that?

Lucas:

I am well, I am now.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

Well, you shouldn't be

Heather Lerner:

thinking that cuz that's wrong.

Heather Lerner:

I was mean right?

Heather Lerner:

This is, it was, it was exactly.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

So what's really interesting about

Heather Lerner:

this, um, is that they probably

Heather Lerner:

didn't have that, um, same.

Heather Lerner:

They didn't have that

Heather Lerner:

same tooth structure.

Heather Lerner:

They probably were not able

Heather Lerner:

to chew off pieces of wood.

Heather Lerner:

They were not chopping down trees.

Heather Lerner:

We have two lines of evidence that tell

Heather Lerner:

us this oh three, maybe number one.

Heather Lerner:

We have not found any pieces of

Heather Lerner:

wood, fossilized wood, with the

Heather Lerner:

marks of giant beaver teeth on them.

Heather Lerner:

That's, you know, absence of evidence

Heather Lerner:

is not, right, evidence of absence.

Heather Lerner:

Sure.

Heather Lerner:

So we're gonna hold off on that,

Heather Lerner:

but we haven't found that, um, we

Heather Lerner:

haven't found any big dams or lodges

Heather Lerner:

in context with a giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

So that's more absence of evidence.

Heather Lerner:

Um, the other thing is that you can,

Heather Lerner:

like I said, these organisms hold

Heather Lerner:

a signature of their environment.

Heather Lerner:

You can look and see

Heather Lerner:

what they were eating.

Heather Lerner:

I could figure out what you are eating

Heather Lerner:

from the stable isotopes in your hair.

Lucas:

Okay.

Lucas:

That was significantly less creepy

Lucas:

than I thought it was going to be,

Lucas:

talked about plugs drilled from teeth.

Heather Lerner:

I'm not, I'm not

Heather Lerner:

gonna take a plug of your teeth.

Heather Lerner:

that's Nope.

Heather Lerner:

I'm really far more interested in

Heather Lerner:

the fossils, but if we wanted to

Heather Lerner:

and people have done this, they have

Heather Lerner:

looked at the signature of the foods

Heather Lerner:

people are eating from their hair and

Heather Lerner:

fingernails and you can see where like

Heather Lerner:

what your favorite fast food is because

Heather Lerner:

different fast food places are getting

Heather Lerner:

their beef from different places.

Lucas:

Wow.

Heather Lerner:

And that holds the

Heather Lerner:

signature of the environment, the food,

Heather Lerner:

it was eating the place it was living.

Lucas:

You literally are what you eat.

Heather Lerner:

Yes, you are.

Heather Lerner:

that?

Heather Lerner:

Yeah, that is correct.

Heather Lerner:

So, um, there was a really neat study

Heather Lerner:

that came out in 20, 20 same year as

Heather Lerner:

our, um, as our DNA study and they

Heather Lerner:

were looking at a different species of

Heather Lerner:

beaver, not so giant about two-thirds

Heather Lerner:

the size of the modern beaver.

Heather Lerner:

And that's a Dipoides, is the genus.

Heather Lerner:

And they were curious, what

Heather Lerner:

was this, this animal eating?

Heather Lerner:

And then they were comparing it to

Heather Lerner:

Casteroides, to our extinct giant

Heather Lerner:

beaver and to Castor the modern beaver.

Heather Lerner:

What they're doing is trying to figure

Heather Lerner:

out, um, there are different options for

Heather Lerner:

what these species could be eating, right?

Heather Lerner:

You're in an aquatic environment.

Heather Lerner:

And we have evidence that Dipoides

Heather Lerner:

was in an aquatic environment.

Heather Lerner:

It, um, evidence of,

Heather Lerner:

uh, chewed, chewed wood.

Heather Lerner:

So that's pretty strong, right?

Heather Lerner:

Find Dipoides, you find some things

Heather Lerner:

that look like maybe it was a lodge?

Heather Lerner:

They could be eating bark, they could be

Heather Lerner:

eating, you know, the, the layer right

Heather Lerner:

underneath the bark, the stuff that has

Heather Lerner:

good nutrients in it could be eating that.

Heather Lerner:

So they could have been eating any

Heather Lerner:

of the other plants that around them.

Heather Lerner:

We know that they're vegetarian or

Heather Lerner:

we assume they are given rodents,

Heather Lerner:

um, long evolutionary history of

Heather Lerner:

being vegetarian, um, or herbivores.

Heather Lerner:

So they could have been eating

Heather Lerner:

mosses and lichens and other things

Heather Lerner:

that would be in this Tundra area

Heather Lerner:

where the species was found, they

Heather Lerner:

could be eating trees or shrubs.

Heather Lerner:

They could also be eating

Heather Lerner:

the, like the leafy vegetation

Heather Lerner:

that would be in the ponds.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

So macrophytes, that green fleshy stuff.

Heather Lerner:

And so you can look at the

Heather Lerner:

carbon and nitrogen isotopes in

Heather Lerner:

those different types of plants.

Heather Lerner:

And then you can look at the tissues of

Heather Lerner:

that animal and see how they compare.

Heather Lerner:

And there's a lot of other

Heather Lerner:

science going on behind there.

Heather Lerner:

Right?

Heather Lerner:

You don't just lay down exactly

Heather Lerner:

what you're eating your body,

Heather Lerner:

modifies it a little bit.

Heather Lerner:

And so you have to do some corrections

Heather Lerner:

and things, but from this, they

Heather Lerner:

were able to show that it does look

Heather Lerner:

like Dipoides, I know we're taking a

Heather Lerner:

detour here to a different species,

Heather Lerner:

but it is important and relevant.

Heather Lerner:

You can cut it if you need

Heather Lerner:

to , but it looks like that one

Heather Lerner:

was basically a generalist in the

Heather Lerner:

sense that yes, it could do some

Heather Lerner:

woody plants and those macrophytes.

Heather Lerner:

Pretty cool.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

They were also using information

Heather Lerner:

from Casteroides and this is

Heather Lerner:

where it gets really interesting.

Heather Lerner:

doesn't look like they

Heather Lerner:

were eating woody things.

Heather Lerner:

Their signature shows much more

Heather Lerner:

strongly in the macrophyte.

Heather Lerner:

So then you start looking at those

Heather Lerner:

teeth again and thinking, okay,

Heather Lerner:

so not having the super strong

Heather Lerner:

orange piece on those teeth, maybe

Heather Lerner:

they really weren't doing that.

Heather Lerner:

Maybe they weren't cutting down trees.

Heather Lerner:

Maybe that absence of evidence is

Heather Lerner:

because they're, they weren't doing it.

Heather Lerner:

So start looking at those teeth again,

Heather Lerner:

when you see this, um, the front teeth

Heather Lerner:

have this sort of, um, inverted V shape

Heather Lerner:

or like a little, little mountain shape

Heather Lerner:

and where they, the two teeth meet is

Heather Lerner:

almost like if you're gonna cut a piece

Heather Lerner:

of paper and you just open the scissors

Heather Lerner:

a little bit and sort of push it at

Heather Lerner:

the paper and slice that paper apart.

Heather Lerner:

Like this is a good slicing thing.

Heather Lerner:

And you think about reeds,

Heather Lerner:

you think about grasses?

Heather Lerner:

You wanna cut those?

Heather Lerner:

You just slice right through it

Heather Lerner:

with this kind of a tooth structure.

Heather Lerner:

Cool.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Lucas:

So rather than having a

Lucas:

metal knife in its mouth, it

Lucas:

has, uh, a pair of bone scissors.

Lucas:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

Amazing.

Heather Lerner:

it also has these wonderful molars and

Heather Lerner:

those look like nice grinding teeth.

Heather Lerner:

They're not in my opinion, that

Heather Lerner:

dissimilar from the modern beaver.

Heather Lerner:

Um, but modern beavers are

Heather Lerner:

also gonna be eating that,

Heather Lerner:

um, fleshy vegetation as well.

Heather Lerner:

So in the summer, when you can

Heather Lerner:

get it, you wanna eat stuff that

Heather Lerner:

has the highest reward value.

Heather Lerner:

So the most nutrients and,

Heather Lerner:

you know, we need fiber.

Heather Lerner:

Everybody needs fiber, but you

Heather Lerner:

don't want it all to be fiber.

Heather Lerner:

Like you don't wanna go heavily on the

Heather Lerner:

tree side, if you don't have to really go

Heather Lerner:

for the fleshy stuff, if you can get it.

Heather Lerner:

So they're eating the fleshy plants,

Heather Lerner:

but then they're caching those

Heather Lerner:

twigs underwater to keep them cool.

Heather Lerner:

And to last over the winter.

Heather Lerner:

And that's why we have beavers

Heather Lerner:

today is that they have that

Heather Lerner:

adaptation of being able to make

Heather Lerner:

it through those long dark winters.

Heather Lerner:

And when they create those dams and

Heather Lerner:

they create bigger bodies of water,

Heather Lerner:

those bodies of water don't fully

Heather Lerner:

freeze over so they can maintain an

Heather Lerner:

open access underneath the water.

Heather Lerner:

It can hide their food down

Heather Lerner:

there, cause all the green plants

Heather Lerner:

they're, they're not edible.

Heather Lerner:

They're not growing in the winter.

Heather Lerner:

They're covered in snow.

Heather Lerner:

But if you can keep 'em in your

Heather Lerner:

underwater refrigerator, all winter.

Heather Lerner:

You can survive because

Heather Lerner:

they don't really hibernate.

Heather Lerner:

They kinda slow down, but they do

Heather Lerner:

need to eat throughout the winter.

Heather Lerner:

It's kind of a bummer that the giant

Heather Lerner:

beaver doesn't seem to have been

Heather Lerner:

using trees and building dams and

Heather Lerner:

lodges because that probably is a

Heather Lerner:

major contributor to its demise.

Heather Lerner:

It wasn't able to handle

Heather Lerner:

the warming of the climate.

Heather Lerner:

It wasn't able to handle the

Heather Lerner:

drying out of the climate.

Heather Lerner:

It needed those big waterways,

Heather Lerner:

you know, the, you find a lot

Heather Lerner:

more Casteroides in the areas

Heather Lerner:

south and around the great lakes.

Heather Lerner:

So they just, they weren't able to

Heather Lerner:

make it through that changing climate.

Heather Lerner:

And so they did become extinct.

Heather Lerner:

The end of the Pleistocene.

Heather Lerner:

There's another really cool adaptation,

Heather Lerner:

but I think we should go see the

Heather Lerner:

most complete fossil giant fever.

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

Let's do it.

Lucas:

We weren't in the museum?

Heather Lerner:

We were behind the

Heather Lerner:

scenes now we can go to the public side.

Lucas:

Let's go over here.

Lucas:

Pass the whooping crane pass.

Lucas:

Oh,

Heather Lerner:

I'm gonna say it.

Lucas:

Uh, the, the, the most

Lucas:

complete skeleton of a fo-, shoot.

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Heather Lerner:

World's most complete fossil giant beaver.

Lucas:

World's most complete

Lucas:

fossil giant beaver.

Lucas:

I got it.

Heather Lerner:

You got it.

Lucas:

I think,

Heather Lerner:

it is really nice to say,

Lucas:

ah,

Heather Lerner:

here she is.

Heather Lerner:

Wait,

Lucas:

what?

Lucas:

. Ah,

Lucas:

This one right here.

Heather Lerner:

I love this orientation.

Heather Lerner:

She is coming right at you.

Lucas:

Oh, she?

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Heather Lerner:

We can tell from her pelvis

Heather Lerner:

and her size that she's a she.

Heather Lerner:

So when I first got here, she was turned

Heather Lerner:

sideways and you could just see her from

Heather Lerner:

the side, which you haven't even seen yet.

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Heather Lerner:

And then we were doing some, you know,

Heather Lerner:

renovations, new exhibit kind of stuff.

Heather Lerner:

This whole exhibit is all new

Heather Lerner:

signage, um, designed by our students.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and we rotated her.

Heather Lerner:

And for the first time we saw her

Heather Lerner:

coming at us and we said, "Oh, that's

Heather Lerner:

the way you need to approach her.

Heather Lerner:

You need to think about a giant

Heather Lerner:

beaver approaching you, or you

Heather Lerner:

approaching a giant beaver."

Lucas:

Yes.

Heather Lerner:

And there she is.

Heather Lerner:

This is her.

Lucas:

This is her.

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Heather Lerner:

This is not a copy.

Heather Lerner:

In fact, we don't have an assembled copy.

Heather Lerner:

I showed you that cabinet again, it's

Heather Lerner:

all in different boxes so that we can

Heather Lerner:

get them out and lay them out and, and

Heather Lerner:

measure different things and look at them.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

Like I said, taxidermy, not

Heather Lerner:

so great for scientific study.

Heather Lerner:

Also mounted, specimens, not

Heather Lerner:

so great for scientific study.

Heather Lerner:

It's a little hard to see every

Heather Lerner:

single piece and rotate it and measure

Heather Lerner:

all the things you wanna measure.

Heather Lerner:

We have done it, you know, for

Heather Lerner:

the Mastodon, we did measure all

Heather Lerner:

the different parts so that we

Heather Lerner:

could determine the size of it.

Heather Lerner:

Question is scale.

Heather Lerner:

I, uh, yes.

Heather Lerner:

Lifting up that femur a little different,

Heather Lerner:

but, um, so we actually have her on

Heather Lerner:

exhibit in most places you will not see.

Heather Lerner:

Well, I mean, nowhere else will you see.

Heather Lerner:

The world's most complete, complete

Heather Lerner:

fossil giant beaver , but we do

Heather Lerner:

have her right here on exhibit.

Lucas:

Incredible.

Heather Lerner:

You made a comment

Heather Lerner:

before about seeing the skull of

Heather Lerner:

an animal and thinking, gosh, it

Heather Lerner:

seems bigger when I see it alive.

Heather Lerner:

And if you think about it, very few

Heather Lerner:

people are just the size of their bones.

Heather Lerner:

In fact, no one is except a skeleton.

Heather Lerner:

You have all sorts of muscles and

Heather Lerner:

tendons and cartilage and fluid

Heather Lerner:

and a whole layer of fat and skin

Heather Lerner:

all over the top of those bones.

Heather Lerner:

So just that alone is gonna add, you know,

Heather Lerner:

depending on the particular organism,

Heather Lerner:

half inch to an inch all the way around.

Heather Lerner:

So it's really much bigger when

Heather Lerner:

this animal was fleshed out and we

Heather Lerner:

have some great illustrations, um,

Heather Lerner:

Corbin Rainbolt was a student here

Heather Lerner:

and he is a renowned paleo artist.

Heather Lerner:

Um, and he did the artwork for our,

Heather Lerner:

for this exhibit when he was a student.

Heather Lerner:

And he has also continued to work with

Heather Lerner:

us afterward and done drawings for us

Heather Lerner:

because lots of times I need something

Heather Lerner:

that shows the difference between

Heather Lerner:

a modern and an extinct organism.

Heather Lerner:

And so I, I need them in

Heather Lerner:

context with each other.

Heather Lerner:

I need a particular orientation and,

Heather Lerner:

and Corbin does that kind of work.

Heather Lerner:

In fact, what I'm wearing is

Heather Lerner:

. . . Lucas: Hey!

Heather Lerner:

A giant beaver mini skirt.

Lucas:

She's been here the whole time!

Heather Lerner:

Yep.

Heather Lerner:

Pretty cool.

Lucas:

That is fabulous, Heather!

Heather Lerner:

And you can

Heather Lerner:

get your own on red bubble.

Heather Lerner:

You can also get a t-shirt and

Heather Lerner:

other thing, a notebook or whatever.

Heather Lerner:

exactly you day before.

Heather Lerner:

I dunno.

Heather Lerner:

You may have to buy a

Heather Lerner:

couple different sizes.

Heather Lerner:

So this is the world's most

Heather Lerner:

complete fossil giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

It is not however, the type specimen.

Lucas:

I got it wrong.

Lucas:

I thought that's what it was.

Heather Lerner:

It's not.

Heather Lerner:

The type specimen is

Heather Lerner:

no longer in existence.

Heather Lerner:

It was lost in a fire.

Heather Lerner:

And this one was also

Heather Lerner:

almost lost in a fire.

Heather Lerner:

So these are all these stories

Heather Lerner:

are all wrapped up together.

Heather Lerner:

um, she was found by some

Heather Lerner:

farmers in the Eastern part

Heather Lerner:

of Randolph county in Indiana.

Heather Lerner:

They were opening up a ditch

Heather Lerner:

to drain a swampy area.

Heather Lerner:

It was locally known as "The Dismal."

Heather Lerner:

And the contractor who was doing

Heather Lerner:

this work came upon the skeleton.

Heather Lerner:

And this is neat.

Heather Lerner:

It said, "On account of its standing in

Heather Lerner:

its natural position and its wonderful

Heather Lerner:

tusks, it awakened a desire to save

Heather Lerner:

all the parts that might be found."

Heather Lerner:

That was written by Joseph Moore in

Heather Lerner:

1890 when he described this specimen.

Heather Lerner:

This contractor found this animal

Heather Lerner:

and thought this doesn't look

Heather Lerner:

like anything I've seen before.

Heather Lerner:

look at those giant chompers, right?

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And they wanted to know what it was.

Heather Lerner:

They brought the skull into town,

Heather Lerner:

the farmer whose property, it was

Heather Lerner:

brought it into town and started asking

Heather Lerner:

around and nobody knew what it was.

Heather Lerner:

No one had seen anything

Heather Lerner:

just like this before.

Heather Lerner:

And you remember that giant

Heather Lerner:

football in my arm for that skull.

Heather Lerner:

If you found that you would be

Heather Lerner:

wondering what the heck as well.

Heather Lerner:

So no one knew what it was.

Heather Lerner:

Somebody said, put it up

Heather Lerner:

in the window of the bank.

Heather Lerner:

Someone coming in or out will surely know.

Heather Lerner:

So they put it up in

Heather Lerner:

the window of the bank.

Heather Lerner:

No one knew.

Heather Lerner:

Finally someone said, take

Heather Lerner:

it down to Earlham college.

Heather Lerner:

If anyone will know it'll be Joseph Moore.

Heather Lerner:

So they brought it down to

Heather Lerner:

him and he immediately said,

Heather Lerner:

"Well, I am not totally sure.

Heather Lerner:

However, I do believe it's a giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

But the giant beaver has been described

Heather Lerner:

from a fragment of tooth and jaw.

Heather Lerner:

That's all that's ever

Heather Lerner:

been found of it before.

Heather Lerner:

And you have a whole skull school.

Heather Lerner:

Is there anymore?"

Heather Lerner:

And they said, "Oh yes, the

Heather Lerner:

whole thing, it's right there!"

Heather Lerner:

So they went back.

Heather Lerner:

The contractor knew exactly where it was.

Heather Lerner:

They dug the entire thing up.

Heather Lerner:

It is seven eighths

Heather Lerner:

complete, as I've said.

Heather Lerner:

And so you can look at her and you can

Heather Lerner:

see a slightly different coloration.

Heather Lerner:

where you can see what's real.

Heather Lerner:

And then that darker color, right, that

Heather Lerner:

other matrix that we use to fill in the

Heather Lerner:

parts that we're missing so that you have

Heather Lerner:

what looks like a full skeleton here.

Heather Lerner:

But very little of that

Heather Lerner:

is that dark color, right?

Heather Lerner:

There are a few of the

Heather Lerner:

vertebra and the neck there.

Heather Lerner:

Um, there's a little bit of the,

Heather Lerner:

of the shoulder blade, um, a little

Heather Lerner:

bit in the toes, but for the most

Heather Lerner:

part, this is a complete skeleton.

Heather Lerner:

So she, Joseph Moore purchased her

Heather Lerner:

with some of his own money, some money

Heather Lerner:

that was donated and brought her here

Heather Lerner:

and she's remained here ever since.

Heather Lerner:

Like I said, two different sets of

Heather Lerner:

molds have been made from her so

Heather Lerner:

that she can be shared throughout

Heather Lerner:

the world and be studied more easily.

Heather Lerner:

Um, but we did almost lose her in 1924.

Heather Lerner:

Um, she was in Lindley hall, which was

Heather Lerner:

where the museum was housed at the time.

Heather Lerner:

And that night, um, just after

Heather Lerner:

I wanna say midnight, um, the

Heather Lerner:

building went up in flames.

Heather Lerner:

The floors were wood and

Heather Lerner:

they had just been oiled.

Heather Lerner:

And so it went up hot and fast.

Heather Lerner:

Students were awoken by the sounds

Heather Lerner:

of this and ran out of their dorms.

Heather Lerner:

Students worked in the museum

Heather Lerner:

then just as they do today.

Heather Lerner:

And they knew the incredible

Heather Lerner:

value of this giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

And they ran into the burning building,

Heather Lerner:

picked her up and carried her out.

Heather Lerner:

We have a, a copy of a letter written by

Heather Lerner:

one of those students after spending hours

Heather Lerner:

doing this, went back to his dorm room and

Heather Lerner:

sat down and wrote home to his mommy and

Heather Lerner:

poppy to tell them about what happened.

Heather Lerner:

And to say, I just, I don't

Heather Lerner:

think I can settle down to sleep.

Heather Lerner:

I don't know what the rest

Heather Lerner:

of the semester's gonna be

Heather Lerner:

look like, gonna look like.

Heather Lerner:

This building burned.

Heather Lerner:

This building also housed the

Heather Lerner:

registrar and all the records.

Heather Lerner:

A lot of the work was really saving

Heather Lerner:

the, the specimens of the museum.

Heather Lerner:

So we do, we are the caretakers

Heather Lerner:

for an Egyptian woman, um,

Heather Lerner:

Ta'an, she's, um, she's mummified

Heather Lerner:

and she is in the museum here.

Heather Lerner:

She was rescued.

Heather Lerner:

The giant beaver was rescued

Heather Lerner:

and you know, anything else

Heather Lerner:

they could get their hands on.

Heather Lerner:

In 1952, Jim cope, reestablished this

Heather Lerner:

museum in the space that we have here.

Heather Lerner:

And she was put back on display.

Heather Lerner:

So there was about 25 years when

Heather Lerner:

she was off exhibit, um, or at least

Heather Lerner:

not in the Joseph Moore museum.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

So she's back on display.

Lucas:

Wow, incredible.

Heather Lerner:

So our students now know

Heather Lerner:

the most important specimens that we have

Heather Lerner:

and the order that you would save them.

Heather Lerner:

they also know.

Heather Lerner:

To be very careful with their own

Heather Lerner:

selves and do not die in a fire.

Heather Lerner:

that fire, the 1924 Linley fire did claim

Heather Lerner:

the life of at least one firefighter.

Heather Lerner:

And, um, it was deemed to be arson.

Heather Lerner:

There are several hypotheses.

Heather Lerner:

One was a disgruntled janitor who had

Heather Lerner:

been fired, who would've known the

Heather Lerner:

schedule of the oiling of the floors.

Heather Lerner:

And would've known the best time

Heather Lerner:

to take the whole building down.

Heather Lerner:

Um, another hypothesis, since

Heather Lerner:

all the registrar records were

Heather Lerner:

burned, was that it was a student

Heather Lerner:

hoping to erase their record.

Heather Lerner:

And we don't know to this day, who did it.

Heather Lerner:

Wow.

Heather Lerner:

I wish someone's diary with a

Heather Lerner:

confession would be found, right?

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Lucas:

That is an incredible story.

Lucas:

Part of the reason that I knew I had

Lucas:

to come up here was I'm writing a

Lucas:

book for fantasy authors, essentially.

Lucas:

And to tell them that, Hey, there

Lucas:

was an Egyptian woman and a giant

Lucas:

beaver who survived a fire in

Lucas:

Indiana in the fifties like that

Lucas:

is, uh, you can't write this stuff.

Heather Lerner:

She, she has some

Heather Lerner:

pretty incredible history and some

Heather Lerner:

real, real champions who would

Heather Lerner:

risk their own lives to save her.

Heather Lerner:

So you were asking what

Heather Lerner:

a type specimen is.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And when I referenced how Joseph

Heather Lerner:

Moore said, "Well, I think this is

Heather Lerner:

a giant beaver, but the description

Heather Lerner:

of giant beaver is based off of

Heather Lerner:

the fragment of a tooth and a jaw."

Heather Lerner:

That's it.

Heather Lerner:

He then turned around and wrote a

Heather Lerner:

paper that described this specimen,

Heather Lerner:

but he could not name it because it

Heather Lerner:

had already been named as Casteroides

Heather Lerner:

ohioensis from that tiny little bit.

Lucas:

Wow.

Heather Lerner:

So Joseph Moore

Heather Lerner:

has an amazing paper that is really

Heather Lerner:

descriptive about this entire skeleton,

Heather Lerner:

but it is not the type specimen.

Lucas:

Type specimen is,

Heather Lerner:

the individual for

Heather Lerner:

which the species is described from.

Heather Lerner:

We define this species to be something

Heather Lerner:

that has these particular morphological.

Heather Lerner:

Which are based on a tooth and a jaw.

Heather Lerner:

What's very interesting is the

Heather Lerner:

extraordinary bias in museum collections,

Heather Lerner:

which mirrors the collecting tradition

Heather Lerner:

that museums are built upon, which

Heather Lerner:

is the collecting tradition of white

Heather Lerner:

men going and documenting the world

Heather Lerner:

around them and primarily collecting

Heather Lerner:

male individuals of species and

Heather Lerner:

describing species based on the males.

Heather Lerner:

So the vast majority of

Heather Lerner:

type specimens are males.

Heather Lerner:

The vast majority of specimens

Heather Lerner:

and collections are also males.

Heather Lerner:

And that holds true even for species

Heather Lerner:

and you might be thinking, okay,

Heather Lerner:

well the males have bigger tusks.

Heather Lerner:

They've got antlers.

Heather Lerner:

They're very pretty, they're flashy.

Heather Lerner:

Right?

Heather Lerner:

We're gonna collect them.

Heather Lerner:

They're also the ones that

Heather Lerner:

may be more aggressive.

Heather Lerner:

So they may be more easy to catch

Heather Lerner:

because they might approach you

Heather Lerner:

and you might be able to shoot

Heather Lerner:

them or catch them or whatever.

Heather Lerner:

Even controlling for that.

Heather Lerner:

We do not collect in equal

Heather Lerner:

numbers, males and females

Heather Lerner:

what I think is really important

Heather Lerner:

is to be able to describe the

Heather Lerner:

variation within a species.

Heather Lerner:

And when you boil it all down to the

Heather Lerner:

type, the one, the original you miss

Heather Lerner:

what makes up the beauty of species,

Heather Lerner:

which is the unique traits, the range

Heather Lerner:

from light brown to dark brown that

Heather Lerner:

you see in the pelts, from the length

Heather Lerner:

of the fur, from the lengths of the

Heather Lerner:

tails, from the behavior, there's so

Heather Lerner:

much beauty and, um, flavor that when

Heather Lerner:

you focus on a type specimen, you lose.

Heather Lerner:

What you didn't know about that I

Heather Lerner:

said I was gonna tell you before,

Heather Lerner:

and then I didn't is a very

Heather Lerner:

cool feature of the giant beaver.

Lucas:

You're giving me the eyebrows.

Lucas:

And from what we talked about

Lucas:

before that didn't get eyebrows.

Lucas:

I know this is gonna be cool.

Heather Lerner:

You look

Heather Lerner:

inside of the modern beaver

Heather Lerner:

and you can see the brain case.

Heather Lerner:

Yes.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

You look inside and you can see

Heather Lerner:

there's an opening in the nose.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

You have openings in your

Heather Lerner:

nose too, for obvious reasons.

Heather Lerner:

Um, there's some breathing purposes

Heather Lerner:

going on there and there's maybe

Heather Lerner:

some more airspaces in this skull.

Heather Lerner:

It's a little hard to see because.

Heather Lerner:

Skull, and it has an

Heather Lerner:

exterior bone structure.

Heather Lerner:

This giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

In my other hand, you can see is

Heather Lerner:

because of the way it's been preserved.

Heather Lerner:

You can see a lot more inside and you

Heather Lerner:

can see there's a big opening in here.

Heather Lerner:

Big open space in there

Heather Lerner:

where the spine would've.

Heather Lerner:

That?

Heather Lerner:

That is where the spine, you can

Heather Lerner:

see on the, on the, where the

Heather Lerner:

vertebra come off, that hole, the,

Heather Lerner:

the FRA at the back of the skull.

Heather Lerner:

So there's a big opening in there and

Heather Lerner:

you can sort of stick your finger down

Heather Lerner:

in and see, it goes pretty far down.

Heather Lerner:

And then you can look up its nose

Heather Lerner:

and you can see in the modern beaver

Heather Lerner:

that opening stops maybe an inch

Heather Lerner:

or so in, in the giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

There are all of these pockets

Heather Lerner:

of openings and they connect

Heather Lerner:

way back in here into the skull.

Heather Lerner:

So that brain case opening is very

Heather Lerner:

small compared to this other giant

Heather Lerner:

opening in the front of the skull.

Heather Lerner:

But there's this big opening behind the

Heather Lerner:

nose, reminiscent of whales of things that

Heather Lerner:

communicate underwater, things that have

Heather Lerner:

resonant chambers for making big sounds.

Heather Lerner:

I mean, we don't know for sure.

Heather Lerner:

But it really kind of makes you

Heather Lerner:

think that the giant beaver was

Heather Lerner:

making a lot of sounds clicks and

Heather Lerner:

words, and maybe big booms and

Heather Lerner:

maybe it was resonating in there.

Heather Lerner:

We don't know the soft structures

Heather Lerner:

that would've been in there because

Heather Lerner:

those have not been preserved someday

Heather Lerner:

as the Tundra thaws, we're going to

Heather Lerner:

find a fully fleshed, giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

And the first thing I wanna

Heather Lerner:

know is what's inside that big.

Heather Lerner:

What do those structures look like?

Heather Lerner:

There is a researcher, Beth

Heather Lerner:

Rinaldi, and she got a 3d.

Heather Lerner:

She got a CT scan of giant beaver

Heather Lerner:

skull and was not this one, not this

Heather Lerner:

one and was able to print, essentially

Heather Lerner:

print that empty space and turn it

Heather Lerner:

into a horn so that she could play

Heather Lerner:

the sound of the giant beaver horn.

Heather Lerner:

And when we go downstairs, I'll

Heather Lerner:

see if I have that recording on

Heather Lerner:

my phone and play it for you.

Heather Lerner:

Because I went to her house once I heard

Heather Lerner:

that and I happened to be passing through

Heather Lerner:

Kansas, which, where she was at the

Heather Lerner:

time I sent her an email immediately and

Heather Lerner:

said, I'm going to be there in December.

Heather Lerner:

Can I come to your house?

Heather Lerner:

and she said, sure.

Heather Lerner:

so I showed up and I'm

Heather Lerner:

coming to your house.

Heather Lerner:

Exactly.

Heather Lerner:

And she played the giant

Heather Lerner:

beaver horn for me.

Lucas:

Stay tuned for more about how

Lucas:

this ice age giant becomes a D&D monster,

Lucas:

but I just want to briefly tell you

Lucas:

how you can take it home to your table.

Lucas:

The giant beaver is one of more than a

Lucas:

dozen Plieistocene megafauna appearing

Lucas:

in Book of Extinction, a bestiary of

Lucas:

extinct species for 5th edition coming

Lucas:

to Kickstarter in March of 2023.

Lucas:

You can get the most recent playtest

Lucas:

release of Book of Extinction by joining

Lucas:

the Mage Hand Press Patreon family of

Lucas:

nerds at Patreon dot com slash m f o v.

Lucas:

The giant beaver appears alongside

Lucas:

the giant short-faced kangaroo, the

Lucas:

glyptodon, and the saber-toothed tiger.

Lucas:

You'll also meet prehistoric

Lucas:

lycanthropes like the dire werewolf,

Lucas:

the cave werebear, and the weremammoth.

Lucas:

That's Patreon dot com slash m f o v.

Lucas:

Patron or not, you can get the first

Lucas:

three monsters in the Book of Extinction

Lucas:

- the passenger pigeon, the great auk,

Lucas:

and the Tasmanian tiger - right now at

Lucas:

Scintilla dot Studio slash extinction.

Lucas:

Pay what you want for it, and anything

Lucas:

we earn will be donated to the

Lucas:

Center for Biological Diversity to

Lucas:

support their protecting endangered

Lucas:

species and wild places world wide.

Lucas:

All those links are in the description.

Heather Lerner:

So I figured at some

Heather Lerner:

point you were gonna ask me about

Heather Lerner:

my experience playing Dungeons and

Heather Lerner:

Dragons, which is not vast, and what

Heather Lerner:

I thought about this animal as yeah.

Heather Lerner:

You know, a real creature and

Heather Lerner:

what its special traits are.

Heather Lerner:

And also as a, as a magical creature.

Heather Lerner:

So I've been thinking about

Heather Lerner:

that for a little bit, and

Heather Lerner:

I really think that ability.

Heather Lerner:

That sound ability is pretty cool.

Heather Lerner:

And I mean, just as an

Heather Lerner:

actual living creature, the

Heather Lerner:

ability to make those sounds.

Heather Lerner:

And, and first as I, you know, my thought

Heather Lerner:

processes have, have changed over time.

Heather Lerner:

Um, you know, like I was pointing

Heather Lerner:

out before with ASOS, we used to

Heather Lerner:

think they were tail draggers.

Heather Lerner:

Now we think that their tails were upright

Heather Lerner:

and we used to think they were maybe just

Heather Lerner:

green and scaly, you know, we think, oh,

Heather Lerner:

they could have been all different colors.

Heather Lerner:

Right.

Heather Lerner:

They could have had lots of different.

Heather Lerner:

And we've changed our opinion of

Heather Lerner:

what the giant beaver looked like.

Heather Lerner:

I've been understanding more, um,

Heather Lerner:

about her and I think a lot about her

Heather Lerner:

impact on the environment around her.

Heather Lerner:

And I was thinking if you're not cutting

Heather Lerner:

down trees, you're not building dams.

Heather Lerner:

You're not building lodges.

Heather Lerner:

You're not like the ecosystem

Heather Lerner:

engineer of the modern beaver.

Heather Lerner:

What are you really doing anyway?

Heather Lerner:

but I do think.

Heather Lerner:

that she was keeping those

Heather Lerner:

ponds clear of vegetation.

Heather Lerner:

If she was eating a lot of reeds

Heather Lerner:

and macrophytes, all that pond,

Heather Lerner:

weed, those ponds, weren't those

Heather Lerner:

dense places that you think of.

Heather Lerner:

Now, when you're thinking of a wetland

Heather Lerner:

where you can't get up to the water,

Heather Lerner:

there's so much vegetational around it

Heather Lerner:

and they get filled in pretty quickly.

Heather Lerner:

I bet with her insatiable appetite.

Heather Lerner:

She was really moving a lot

Heather Lerner:

of vegetation out of there.

Heather Lerner:

And I would bet with those incredibly

Heather Lerner:

strong back legs, she could have been

Heather Lerner:

moving stuff out of the bottom of the

Heather Lerner:

ponds and keeping them big and open.

Heather Lerner:

And she could have been making sounds that

Heather Lerner:

would've carried in these big spaces and

Heather Lerner:

maybe through waterways as well, because

Heather Lerner:

she would've been clearing the waterways.

Heather Lerner:

Cuz I was thinking you make a sound

Heather Lerner:

underwater in a, in a stream, in a pond.

Heather Lerner:

It's not gonna carry very far, cuz

Heather Lerner:

there's so much stuff around in there

Heather Lerner:

that we'd just soak up that sound.

Heather Lerner:

I maybe not, maybe she was moving

Heather Lerner:

things around and creating a space

Heather Lerner:

that would let her sounds travel.

Heather Lerner:

So I think if she were mythical that

Heather Lerner:

her sounds, if they were clicks and

Heather Lerner:

words, Might do slashing damage.

Heather Lerner:

I think that maybe if it was more

Heather Lerner:

of a resonant chamber, she could be

Heather Lerner:

making a boom that would flatten you.

Heather Lerner:

I think that she's got some powers

Heather Lerner:

with the, with her massive airspace.

Lucas:

When did you start playing?

Lucas:

What's the what's.

Heather Lerner:

What, what kind

Heather Lerner:

of a part of your life at first?

Heather Lerner:

Okay.

Heather Lerner:

I first played a game in graduate

Heather Lerner:

school with some friends um, and

Heather Lerner:

I think maybe it was maybe a more

Heather Lerner:

traditional game, definitely more

Heather Lerner:

traditional than my next game ion.

Heather Lerner:

It was, I don't know anything about it.

Heather Lerner:

Sure.

Heather Lerner:

This is my level of experience,

Heather Lerner:

but what I do know is.

Heather Lerner:

Fighting random things.

Heather Lerner:

I just wasn't, I wasn't super into it.

Heather Lerner:

I felt like I wasn't sure

Heather Lerner:

I wasn't doing it right.

Heather Lerner:

I didn't know what I was doing.

Heather Lerner:

There was so much fighting

Heather Lerner:

and there was like weapons

Heather Lerner:

and I wasn't really into that.

Heather Lerner:

And then I became director of the Joseph

Heather Lerner:

Moore museum many years down the road.

Heather Lerner:

And I took students to New Zealand

Heather Lerner:

for a study abroad program.

Heather Lerner:

And one of my students was a DM who

Heather Lerner:

is also a great natural historian.

Heather Lerner:

loves organisms loves knowing about the

Heather Lerner:

natural world and when he understood

Heather Lerner:

or when they understood what I really

Heather Lerner:

like, they were able to design a game

Heather Lerner:

that was perfect for me, which was, I

Heather Lerner:

just wanna hang out with the animals.

Heather Lerner:

I want to talk with them.

Heather Lerner:

I want to do things with them.

Heather Lerner:

And if there are animals

Heather Lerner:

around, I am into it.

Heather Lerner:

but when they're not like, okay,

Heather Lerner:

when's the good stuff happening.

Heather Lerner:

So in this game, my goal was to make

Heather Lerner:

friends with every animal we found.

Heather Lerner:

And so everywhere we went, I

Heather Lerner:

asked if I could look for animals.

Heather Lerner:

I asked if I could talk to animals.

Heather Lerner:

And I got very lucky with some early roles

Heather Lerner:

and we met a giant bear and I rolled a.

Heather Lerner:

And so that bear became part of our group.

Heather Lerner:

that bear, every time you

Heather Lerner:

did a check, that bear was

Heather Lerner:

still fully part of our group.

Heather Lerner:

every time I happened to get a

Heather Lerner:

great role and we approached a

Heather Lerner:

town with this giant bear yeah.

Heather Lerner:

And needed to get in and the gatekeepers

Heather Lerner:

like, well, um, uh, no, right.

Heather Lerner:

I don't think so.

Heather Lerner:

And we, right.

Heather Lerner:

And then I said, I'm sorry,

Heather Lerner:

we don't have a bear.

Heather Lerner:

That's uncle.

Heather Lerner:

And it turned out that my deceit

Heather Lerner:

or whatever that's called, I

Heather Lerner:

rolled really well on that.

Heather Lerner:

And so then uncle Jim was just

Heather Lerner:

uncle Jim came into the town

Heather Lerner:

with us and stuck with us.

Heather Lerner:

okay.

Heather Lerner:

And that made a great game.

Heather Lerner:

So McGee Catlett was that student

Heather Lerner:

and they did an incredible

Heather Lerner:

job as a, as a DM for me.

Heather Lerner:

And it got me very interested in

Heather Lerner:

playing or, and now my husband,

Heather Lerner:

who's a physics professor here.

Heather Lerner:

Just started running

Heather Lerner:

a game for our family.

Heather Lerner:

We have three kids.

Heather Lerner:

And so he's been learning how to run a

Heather Lerner:

game so that we can adventure together.

Lucas:

Thanks for listening to

Making a Monster:

Extinction.

Making a Monster:

Many thanks to Heather Lerner and the

Making a Monster:

Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College for

Making a Monster:

providing this behind the scenes tour and

Making a Monster:

opening my eyes to the hidden possibilites

Making a Monster:

in paleo art and DNA reconstruction.

Making a Monster:

The extinction of megafauna tells

Making a Monster:

us so much about how we relate to

Making a Monster:

the natural world, and I'm excited

Making a Monster:

to add what I learned from this

Making a Monster:

trip to the Book of Extinction.

Making a Monster:

Do you like maybe things that get

Making a Monster:

going on ways to get involved with

Making a Monster:

the museum work that you're doing,

Making a Monster:

that you want people to know?

Heather Lerner:

Yeah, I would say one

Heather Lerner:

thing is you can see her yourself.

Heather Lerner:

We are just off I 70.

Heather Lerner:

So if you're ever traveling across

Heather Lerner:

the country and many people.

Heather Lerner:

You'll be on I 70.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

So we're pretty easy to find we're

Heather Lerner:

open every afternoon from one to five

Heather Lerner:

except Tuesday and Thursday year round.

Heather Lerner:

And we also have an escape game that

Heather Lerner:

features the giant beaver and your

Heather Lerner:

goal during the escape game is to

Heather Lerner:

rescue the giant beaver from a fire.

Heather Lerner:

And you actually get to handle

Heather Lerner:

some of the copies of her bones

Heather Lerner:

in the course of the game.

Heather Lerner:

And some of the newspaper articles

Heather Lerner:

about these big events, the fire

Heather Lerner:

and so on, are part of that game.

Heather Lerner:

So the game is all built on real science,

Heather Lerner:

real history surrounding the giant beaver.

Heather Lerner:

So when you play the game, you

Heather Lerner:

learn more things that are actually

Heather Lerner:

real, which is pretty cool.

Heather Lerner:

We that's start doing.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

Yeah.

Heather Lerner:

So you can do it in another game setting.

Heather Lerner:

Uh, escape games are pretty fun.

Heather Lerner:

And then we also have an escape game,

Heather Lerner:

uh, that features Ta'an, um, our

Heather Lerner:

Egyptian woman who's mummified here.

Heather Lerner:

Love to have you follow us on

Heather Lerner:

social media and check us out.

Upcoming research:

we are

Upcoming research:

always looking for more, more

Upcoming research:

ancient DNA projects to work on.

Upcoming research:

We're also working on stable isotopes

Upcoming research:

of modern songbirds and looking at

Upcoming research:

migration patterns and what, what makes

Upcoming research:

songbirds choose to move or feel forced

Upcoming research:

to move, and how can we figure that

Upcoming research:

out based on what's in their feathers.

Lucas:

Now's a great time to hit

Lucas:

that follow button and leave a

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five star review on your podcast.

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App of choice.

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It's a small thing, but it really does

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help new listeners discover the pod.

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If you want to support The Book of

Lucas:

Extinction and endangered species

Lucas:

conservation at the same time, you

Lucas:

can visit the project's landing

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page at scintilla.studio/extinction.

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That's S C I N T I L L A dot studio

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slash extinction to download the

Lucas:

first three monsters in the book.

Lucas:

You can pay what you want for them.

Lucas:

And whatever we earn from that sale

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will be donated directly to the

Lucas:

Center for Biological Diversity.

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You can also keep up with the project

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by joining our email list where I'll

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be sharing more of the incredible,

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true stories that surface through this

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research or follow this podcast for more