Fossil of World's Smallest Hedgehog Discovered in Canada

| 9 Jul 2014 15:47
Concept of Eocene creatures

Move over, Sonic- there's a new hedgehog in town.

A recent palentological expedition in British Columbia has unearthed fossilized remains belonging to an extinct species of hedgehog. The hedgehog, which might have been the smallest in the world, has been confirmed as an entirely new species. Its scientific name Silvacola acares can be translated as "tiny forest dweller".

This discovery has helped scientists expand their knowledge of ancient Canada during the Eocene epoch (which lasted from 56 to 33.9 million years ago), which was the time period when the hedgehog lived. Knowledge about the era is spotty and incomplete due to a rather scattered and hard to pinpoint fossil record. However, with discoveries like these beginning to happen sporadically throughout the past few years, the record is becoming clearer.

"These new mammals fill out our picture of this environment," said David Greenwood, a paleontologist from Brandon University and one of the authors of the new study detailing the recent fossil discovery (published this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology). "For this time period, the Eocene, we know very, very little about mammals across Canada,"

Paleontologists unearthed bones in Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park that belonged to a hedgehog roughly the size of a person's thumb- likely making it the world's smallest. Another find was the jaw of a tapir, a hog-like mammal roughly the size of a spaniel. Both artifacts were found in what used to be the bottom of a lake- suggesting they were dropped there by predators. This rich find supports the theory that more artifacts might lie in the immediate area.

Could this have been the cutest hedgehog of all time? Present your argument in the comments!

Source: United Press International

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