Fossil of World’s Smallest Hedgehog Discovered in Canada

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.

Barry Tarrif

Barry is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning writer. His work has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children.

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