World’s smallest land snail discovered in China


Scientists have found what may be the world’s smallest land snail – tiny enough to fit almost 10 times into the eye of a needle – in China.

While examining soil samples collected from the base of limestone rocks in Guangxi Province, Southern China, scientists Barna Pall-Gergely and Takahiro Asami from Shinshu University, Adrienne Jochum, University and Natural History Museum of Bern and colleagues, found several minute empty light grey shells, which measured a height of less than 1mm.

The single known shell of the new species, named Angustopila dominikae, was measured a mere 0.86mm in shell height.

Thus, it is considered to be perhaps the world’s smallest land snail species when focusing on the largest diameter of the shell, researchers said.

In their paper published in the journal ZooKeys, the team described a total of seven new land snail species.

Another of the described new species, called Angustopila subelevata, measured 0.83-0.91 mm in height. Pall-Gergely and his team also discussed the challenges faced by scientists surveying small molluscs, since finding living specimens is still very difficult.

The evolutionary relationships between these species, as well as the number of existing species are little known.

“Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment,” said researchers.

“Investigating tiny-shelled land snails is important for assessing biodiversity and natural history as well as for establishing the foundation for studying the evolution of dwarfism in invertebrate animals,” they said.

“We hope that these results provide the taxonomic groundwork for future studies concerning the evolution of dwarfism in invertebrates,” they said.