No one really knows how the High Plains got so high. About 70 million years ago, eastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, western Kansas and western Nebraska were near sea level. Since then, the region has risen about 2 kilometers, leading to some head scratching at geology conferences.
Meet perhaps the tiniest hedgehog species ever: Silvacola acares. Its roughly 52-million-year-old fossil remains were recently identified by a University of Colorado Boulder-led team working in British Columbia.
The hedgehog’s scientific name means “tiny forest dweller,” said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Jaelyn Eberle of the geological sciences department, lead author on the study. The creature -- a new genus and species to science -- was only about 2 inches long, roughly the length of an adult thumb.
A special kind of high-altitude athleticism is needed to work in Colorado's most extreme environments. For CU-Boulder scientists like ecology & evolutionary biology (EBIO) graduate student Courtney Naff, it's an inspiring place to push the boundaries of body and mind. This is an extended version of the story first broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.