Texas Scientists Name a Beaver Fossil After Buc-ee's Gas Station Chain

Screenshot:  CBS Sunday Morning / YouTube
Screenshot: CBS Sunday Morning / YouTube

Great news for fans of fossils, Texas-based gas station chains, and adorable little beavers: Scientists at University of Texas’s Jackson School Museum of Earth History have rediscovered an old beaver fossil tucked away in a filing cabinet, and decided to give that lil fella his own official name, Anchitheriomys buceei. This lil guy is named after Buc- ee’s, the state’s iconic gas station chain, Texas Monthly reports.

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Alright, to be fair, Buc-ee’s is more than just a gas station. Buc-ee’s is a lifestyle. You can get your gas — where prices are not advertised, because everyone knows Buc-ee’s is always cheapest — and also buy your groceries, feast like a king on freshly made food, fill your closet with beaver-themed attire, and even nab furniture for your home. So, it’s fitting that this beaver-mascotted station has now been the inspiration for a naming convention for a fossil.

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Here’s a little more about the fossil itself, from Texas Monthly:

On Monday, research associate Steve May and Vertebrate Paleontology Collections director Matthew Brown released a paper about a Miocene-era rodent fossil of a species they have christened Anchitheriomys buceei, or A. buceei for short, proving that those billboards are right: Texas is beaver country, and has been for at least 15 million years.

Further sweetening the caramel coating on this nugget of news is the fact that May and Brown found the fossil not in the field, but tucked away in a museum filing cabinet. A unique skull cast made when sediment seeped into the brain cavity of a dead beaver eons ago, the fossil was first discovered in the East Texas hamlet of Burkeville in 1941 by a team of Texas A&M University paleontologists, as part of a statewide WPA-sponsored survey. One of them, Curtis Hesse, suspected that they had stumbled across a previously unidentified species and wrote that he intended to name it, though he passed away before he was able to do so, in 1945. After that, the skull was forgotten amid the rest of A&M’s vast paleontological collection, including after it was moved to the University of Texas in the 1980s.

That little beaver skull laid in waiting for decades — and I like to think that’s because it knew it was destined for bigger and better things than whatever name it would have been given back in the day. It knew it would pay homage to one of Texas’ greatest gas stations. For that, I pay my respects.

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