From its roughly 52-million-year-old fossil remains, researchers have identified a two-inch-long hedgehog species, Silvacola acares, which could be the tiniest hedgehog species ever.
The hedgehog’s scientific name means “tiny forest dweller”, said lead author on the study Jaelyn Eberle, an associate professor at University of Colorado Boulder in the US.
“It is quite tiny and comparable in size to some of today’s shrews,” Eberle said.
The fossil remains of the hedgehog were found in north-central British Columbia at a site known as Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park that likely was a rainforest environment during the Early Eocene Epoch about 52 million years ago, she said.
Silvacola may have fed on insects, plants and perhaps seeds, Eberle said.
Hedgehogs have become quite the rage as pets in North America in the past several years. The most common hedgehog pet today is the African pygmy hedgehog, which is up to four times the length of the diminutive Silvacola.
The study appeared in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.