Researchers at UT Austin name ancient beaver fossil after favorite Texas gas station
The legend of a treasured gas station chain continues with a new chapter: a rediscovered beaver fossil is being named after Buc-ee’s.
The ancient animal was named Anchitheriomys buceei (A. buceei) by Steve May, a research associate at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences and lead author of the Palaeontologia Electronica paper that describes the beaver.
A. buceei fossils were rediscovered by researchers in UT Austin’s collections and include fossils from six different Texas sites. May decided to name A. buceei after Buc-ee’s after spotting a “This is Beaver Country” billboard in 2020 that reminded him of the fossils he was studying at the time.
Though Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982, CEO Arch “Beaver” Alpin III said in a press release that his business’ history is longer than he thought, and that he may “need to rethink [their] beginnings.”
Occurrences of A. buceei can be found between 15 and 22 million years ago along the state’s gulf coast. At first glance, they don’t appear much different from current native Texas beavers. But according to the report’s co-author Matthew Brown, who is also the director of the Jackson School’s vertebrate paleontology collections, they are nearly 30 percent bigger than today’s beavers.
A partial skull fossil of the beaver was originally collected in 1941 by paleontologists. One of the original finders was Texas A&M University museum curator Curtis Hesse, who passed away four years later before he could name it a new species and publish his study.
More information about A. buceei can be found on UT Austin’s website.