Recordbreaking tiny Chinese land snails discovered, less than 1mm in height

29 Sep 2015

The newly discovered Angustopila dominkae. Image via Dr Barna Páll-Gergely

Raising further questions on the entire genus of microsnails, several new samples of an undiscovered land snail species with a height of less than 1mm have been found.

This new species of Chinese land snails were discovered at the base of limestone rocks in the Guangxi Province in the south of the country, however, only their shells were discovered by the researchers from Japan and Switzerland.

While the fleshy living part of the snail remains undiscovered, the smallest of the species has been dubbed Angustopila dominikae after one of the study’s author’s wife, with it measuring just 0.86mm in height.

Publishing its findings on ZooKeys, the team also discovered slightly larger species such as the Angustopila subelevata measuring in at 0.87mm.

Snail in eye of a needle

Angustopila dominikae, in the eye of a sewing needle. Image via Dr Barna Páll-Gergely and Nikolett Szpisjak

When discussing its findings, the research team said that the actual number of undiscovered micro-snail species still remains something of a mystery because it is very difficult to find living examples.

Without the actual creature itself, the ability to pin the evolutionary changes over millions of years is practically impossible.

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

“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.”

Microsnails 2

Angustopila subelevata. Image via Dr Barna Páll-Gergely

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic