A team from the University of Colorado at Boulder working in British Columbia recently found the fossil of a ‘thumb-sized’ hedgehog. They say the fossil is 52 million years old. It is of the smallest species of hedgehog and is known as the Silvacola acares which stands for “tiny forest dweller”. These small creatures lived a long side several others in Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park in Canada. Silvacola acares is a brand new genus and species to the science community.
Professor Jaelyn Eberle from the university and the lead author of the study, stated that this creature is “comparable in size to some of todays shrews”. While being the size of an adult thumb, Eberle speculates it to have fed on insects, plants, and some seeds.
One question that is being asked is if the hedgehog had quills like some of its modern day counter parts. “We can’t say for sure, but there are ancestral hedgehogs living in Europe about the same time that had bristly hair covering them, so it is plausible Silvacola did too.” Says Jaelyn Eberle in response.
Natalia Rybczynski; another researcher on the team who is from the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa says, “Within Canada, the only other fossil localities yielding mammals of similar age are from the Arctic, so these fossils from British Columbia help fill a significant geographic gap.” There have been findings of similar a similar age recently found in Colorado and Wyoming as well.
A paper on the newly discovered animal species has been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.