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Only very recently did the world find out about the surprisingly large beaver dam in Alberta, Canada. It must have taken at least 35 years to build and is still growing.


The beavers of Canada are in the spotlight these days thanks to a startling discovery of researcher Jean Thie. Since mid-1970, the beavers living on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada, have been building a protective dam. The work of generations of beavers is by far the largest animal-built dam in the world. In fact, it is big enough to be visible from space.

Jean Thie is an environmentalist who first noticed the strange structure while studying permafrost via Google Earth and special NASA satellite imagery, in 2007. He started monitoring the dam, which is located in an inaccessible part of the park. While average beaver dams reach up to about 100 meters, rarely to 500 meters, the newly discovered giant dam measures an astonishing 850 meters. Thie says there are two smaller dams appearing alongside the main dam and thus its size is certainly going to increase even more.

Experts agree that part of the dam may have been formed naturally, by fallen trees. The beavers are very intelligent and while protecting themselves from predators, they simply chose the most convenient location and build on to it.

While the world deeply admires these clever creatures and their impressive work, many are wondering when and how to take a closer look. Luckily, the beavers are safe for the time being. The area is virtually inaccessible and thus Google Earth remains the only way to observe the beaver dam.