Ancient Beaver Fossil Named After Buc-ee’s


An ancient beaver fossil discovered by University of Texas researchers has been named after Buc-ee’s, the Texas- based convenience store chain that also has several travel centers in Alabama.

Buc-ee’s is known for its beaver mascot.

The lead author of a scientific journal article about the discovery said a Buc-ee’s billboard inspired the name for the newly discovered species, called Anchitheriomys buceei, or “A. buceei” for short.

Steve May, a research associate at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, said he was inspired by a Buc-ee’s billboard.

“This is Beaver Country,” the billboard said.

“I thought, ‘Yeah, it is beaver country, and it has been for millions of years,’” May said.


May was the lead author of a paper that describes A. buccei in the journal Palaeontologia Electrictronica, with an overview of beavers on the Texas Gulf Coast from 15 to 22 million ago based on fossils in the University of Texas collections.

The University of Texas has A. buceei fossils from six Texas sites, most importantly a new beaver fossil that includes a partial skull from Burkeville, Texas. The fossil is a fusion of bone and brain cast that was created when sediment naturally seeped into the beaver’s brain cavity eons ago, creating a rock replica of the brain as the specimen fossilized.

High-resolution X-ray images of the skull done at the University of Texas helped May and Brown confirm that the skull belonged to a new species.

The skull was originally collected by a team of Texas paleontologists in 1941. One of them, Curtis Hesse, a museum curator at Texas A&M University, said in notes that he intended to name it a new species. However, Hesse died in 1945 before he could complete his study and publish his findings. Eighty years later, May and Brown, with the help of new technology and a better understanding of the fossil record of beavers, picked up where Hesse left off.

“New discoveries in the field capture lots of attention, but equally as valuable are the discoveries made in existing museum collections,” Brown said.

After hearing about the ancient beaver named after his business, the founder and CEO of Buc-ee’s, Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, said that Buc-ee’s has a longer history in Texas than he initially thought.

“Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982, but we may need to rethink our beginnings,” he said.

Buc-ee’s has three Alabama locations, in Robertsdale, Leeds and Athens, with a fourth expected to open in Auburn next month.


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