Tech. Science. Culture.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Is Mars Ruled by Beavers?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

NASA has been accused of covering up evidence of all manner of lifeforms on Mars: lizards, snakes, rats and squirrels, among other things. But has it really been covering up an even bigger secret?

Yes indeed, according to an article Thomas Elway wrote for the May 1930 Popular Science.

He starts off with a catalog of facts about Mars: "Mars is so like the earth that men might live there. It has air, water, vegetation, and a twenty-four hour succession of day and night, and daily temperatures no hotter and nights not much colder than are known on earth. But because Mars has no mountain ranges and probably never had an ice age, it is considered high improbable that it is inhabited by manlike creatures..."


What Mars is inhabited by, Elway concludes, is giant beavers.


His reasoning is impeccable. Mars, he tells us, has oxygen. Only plants can produce free oxygen in an atmosphere. Therefore Mars has plants. Since Mars resembles earth in just about every other way, Elway reasons that the evolution of life on Mars proceeded along similar lines. But, without having had an Ice Age—which on earth created the "stress and competition that is supposed to have turned mankind's anthropoid ancestors into men"—there can be no intelligent life on the red planet. What animal life there is must still be "in the age of instinct."

There were fish on ancient Mars, however, which eventually emerged onto land, evolving over the millennia into reptiles, rats and squirrels. And after one small improvement, Elway assures us, evolution on Mars came to a halt. It had produced a creature perfectly suited to live on Mars. "Now," he tells us, "there is one creature on earth for the development of whose counterpart the supposed Martian conditions would be ideal. That animal is the beaver. It is either land-living or water-living. It has a fur coat to protect it from the 100 degrees below zero of the Martian night."


These would not be your typical Earth beavers. They would be much bigger, with large chests and enormous eyes. They would have huge claws for burrowing deep into the Martian soil.


Don't laugh, Elway said, "herds of beaver-creatures are at least a more reasonable idea than the familiar fictional one of manlike Martians digging artificial water channels with vast machines or the still more fantastical notion of octopuslike Martians sufficiently intelligent to plan the conquest of the earth."

Yes, that does make a lot more sense.