John James Audubon, "American Beaver,"1854.
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Colored illustration of the American beaver by John James Audubon, first published in 1854.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

After his success with Ornithological Biography and Birds of America, published between 1827 and the 1840s, John James Audubon undertook an illustrated study of American mammals, published as Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America between 1846 and 1853. After personal observation Audubon was little impressed with the beaver's fabled sagacity, finding that "with the exception of its very peculiar mode of constructing its domicile, the Beaver is, in point of intelligence and cunning, greatly exceeded by the fox, and is but a few grades higher in the scale of sagacity than the common musk-rat."

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