BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say the fossil of a small, furry creature found in a Spanish quarry indicates that mammals evolved hedgehog-like spines far earlier than previously thought.
The fossil dates back some 125 million years to a time when dinosaurs were roaming the earth and mammals moved about mostly at night. Previous finds at the Las Hoyas Quarry in east-central Spain include birds, reptiles and frogs, but this is the first true mammal discovered there.
Thanks to a phenomenon called phosphatic fossilization, which preserves even tiny details, the scientists were able to use electron microscopes to identify individual hair shafts including some that had fused together into spines, like those of modern hedgehogs and porcupines, according to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
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Biddy the hedgehog
Scientists find fossil of ancient hedgehog-like mammal
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