Monday, February 21, 2005

Dam! Stop that noise!

My daughter and I went for a walk today and saw a relatively new beaver dam in our neighborhood. She loves learning about animals, so I suggested that when we get home we do some research to find out why beavers build dams. The answer shocked me so much I thought it must be an urban legend (or would it be a rural legend in this case?).

It turns out that beavers build dams to stop the sound of the rushing water.

Beavers always build their dams in the narrowest part of a stream. This is sometimes taken as a sign of their intelligence, but a researcher studying beavers noticed that they are, in fact, dumb as stumps. So he did some playing around and discovered that if he recorded the sound of a free flowing stream and replayed it in an area where beavers lived, the beavers would build "dams" on dry land to cover his speakers. So the beavers build their dams in the narrowest part of the stream because that's where the sound is coming from. Brilliant!

Now I am happy to accept evolution as the best scientific explanation on the market and one which isn't likely to be replaced soon, but I can't see any obvious sequence that would lead creatures to develop a dislike of the sound of flowing water and such an impressive solution to the problem.

Nature truly does declare the glory of God.

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