Beavers have done more to shape North American landscapes than any animal beside humans. We don’t notice them much today because there aren’t many left, but before colonization, North America was home to hundreds of millions of these furry engineers. This week, we show you why Earth’s second largest rodent is more amazing than you ever knew, and why they’re the smartest thing in fur pants.

It’s Okay To Be Smart‘s Joe Hanson travels to Alaska to see how beavers engineer their ecosystem by creating ponds and wetlands, filtering water, helping to prevent floods and droughts, and more that benefit the plants and animals around them. We also get to see what’s inside their lodges.

Related reading: Keystone species. Related infographic: Beavers 101.

Follow this vid with Ecosystem Engineers: How do beavers build dams? and How do living things change their environments?

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