Microsnails: World's Smallest Land Snails Discovered In China [VIDEO]
An international team of researchers were examining soil samples at the base of limestone rocks in Guangxi Province, Southern China, when they stumbled upon the world's smallest species of land snails. In total, the team discovered seven new species.
One of the microsnails, Angustopila dominikae, measured a mere 0.86 mm in shell height. To put this into perspective, the shell could fit in the eye of a needle 10 times over. Another, Angustopila subelevata, placed a close second for the title of world's tiniest land snail with an average height of 0.87 mm.
The scientific names for for the remaining five species are A. fabella, A. szekeresi, Hypselostoma socialis, H. lacrima and Krobylos sinensis.
"We hope that these results provide the taxonomic groundwork for future studies concerning the evolution of dwarfism in invertebrates," the researchers added.
Finding live miniscule molluscs such as this is no easy task, and little is known about their evolution. Their findings, recently reported in ZooKeys, provide stepping stones for future studies.
"Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment," researchers said in a news release. "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."
A video of their study's hihglights can be found online.
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