Yup, it was Pliny the Elder alright, Natural History 8, 47. Here’s the Latin:
Easdem partes sibi ipsi Pontici amputant fibri periculo urgente, ob hoc se peti gnari; castoreum id vocant medici. alias animal horrendi morsus arbores iuxta flumina ut ferro caedit, hominis parte conprehensa non ante quam fracta concrepuerint ossa morsus resolvit. cauda piscium his, cetera species lutrae. utrumque aquaticum, utrique mollior pluma pilus.
And here’s the splendid English translation of 1601 by Philemon Holland:
The Bievers in Pontus gueld themselves, when they see how neere they are driven, and bee in danger of the hunters: as knowing full well, that chased they bee for their genetoires: and these their stones, Physicians call Castoreum. And otherwise, this is a daungerous and terrible beast with his teeth. For verily, hee will bite downe the trees growing by the river sides, as if they were cut with an axe. Looke where he catcheth hold of a man once, he never leaveth nor letteth loose untill hee have knapped the bones in sunder, and heard it cracke againe. Tailed hee is like a fish, otherwise he resembleth the otter. Both those beasts live in the water altogether, and carrie an haire softer than any plume or downe of feathers.
That’s probably enough Beaver-Blogging for one morning. I’ll get back to Kitten-Blogging soon.