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NEBRASKA

NEBRASKA'S PALEOCASTOR
TERRESTRIAL BEAVER
and its Den called a
DAEMONELIX, "the Devil's Corkscrew"


Paleocastor was an ancient beaver whose life style has been compared with modern prairie dogs. The Paleocastor was terrestrial, i.e. lived on (and in) land, instead of mostly in water, as today's beavers do. Although Paleocastor was relatively small, being about 5 inches (12 centimeters) high and approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) long, it had most impressive burrows.

The fossilized spiral burrows of Paleocastor is called a Daemonelix. This fossil burrows have survived and can be found in the Northwestern part of Nebraska, showing us how Paleocastor lived in his home and habitat of that time. This burrow is a feature which is unique to Paleocastor, among all the World's fossil beavers.

Paleocastor dug these spiral burrows into the ancient riverbanks, and there are a number of them found today, one of which our PMNS 2004-2005 President, Mr. DUANNE CLARK, found in 2002, photographed it extensively, and returned to Houston with it in pieces, where hopefully some day we may see it on loan to the PMNS for you to enjoy. The spiral burrows, which are actually trace fossils called Daemonelix or the "Devil's Corkscrew" . Here then are the pictures of one of these Daemonelix spiral burrows, as dug out and photographed PMNS President, Duanne Clark. We are most appreciative of Duanne Clark providing the pictures to us for this page.



All Terrain Vehicle @
Daemonelix site D01
Daemonelix in
situ showing long
bottom of the burrow D02
These are really interesting
when dug out D03
Daemonelix
in situ
supporting timbers D04
Daemonelix
in situ with
supporting timbers D05
Daemonelix
in situ with
supporting timbers D06
Daemonelix
in situ with
supporting timbers D07
Daemonelix
in situ with
supporting timbers D08
Daemonelix
in situ with
supporting timbers D09
Daemonelix has
been removed except
for bottom of chamber D10
Pieces of the
Daemonelix with
plaster support D11
For an excellent graphic of Paleocastor, for this page, we borrowed the graphic below, from the U.S. Government website for the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center of the United States Geodetic Survey which main link is http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov. We express our appreciation for this graphic.
Previously this specific graphic was located at: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/1998/agate/beaver.htm, but that appears at present not to be a good link. You may find this graphic somewhere on the link first given just above.

This USGS site makes the following comments:
The powerful jaw and musculature allowed for grazing on grasses and other plants, as well as masticating. The teeth were deep-rooted and would continue to erupt as the surface was worn down.
The complex musculature supported the use of the forelimbs in burrowing. Paleocastor had a collarbone or clavicle, like us, for greater agility in using the forelimbs.
The forelimbs were adapted to burrowing in the ground.
The tail is like that of a modern burrowing rodent, such as a muskrat, whereas the modern beaver has a different, very specialized tail.