At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.
LEGEND OF THE GIANT BEAVER
The Pocumtuck Indians of Massachussetts had a legend of a giant beaver. In days of yore there had been a lake near where Mount Sugar Loaf stands today and in this the beaver frolicked, a-gobbling of the fish. However, when fish supplies became exhausted, he ventured ashore and began to eat humans. He was too big for the braves to fight, but happily a supernatural being called Hobomock came to the rescue. He fought the beaver and beheaded it with his cudgel. The beaver turned to stone and its head became Mount Sugar Loaf.
Does this mean the Pocumtuck had a legend of a giant beaver, based on an animal that once lived near them? There certainly had been a gigantic beaver in North America (Castoroides ohioensis), whose fossilized remains have been discovered. Zoologists think it may have survived until as late as BC 8000. But I have my doubts that this legend preserves a genuine memory of this creature.
This strikes me as more of an etiological myth. Myths of this type are used to explain the origin of natural features. My feeling is that the story of the Sugar Loaf beaver was concocted to explain the mountain.
However, in modern times, a giant beaver has been reported from Utah. It was observed in Lake Powell in 2002. Maybe Castoroides ohioensis has left some descendants after all.
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