Tuesday 28 February 2017

'Microsnail' measuring 0.86mm discovered in Guangxi province, China

The shell of a tiny snail discovered at the base of limestone rocks in Guangxi province, southern China (Dr Barna Pall-Gergely and Nikolett Szpisjak/PA)
The shell of a tiny snail discovered at the base of limestone rocks in Guangxi province, southern China (Dr Barna Pall-Gergely and Nikolett Szpisjak/PA)
Angustopila dominikae's shell measures just 0.86 millimetres

A snail has been discovered that is so tiny 10 of them could fit side-by-side in the eye of a needle.

Angustopila dominikae, whose shell measures just 0.86 millimetres, is possibly the world's smallest land snail.

It was one of seven "microsnail" species discovered at the base of limestone rocks in Guangxi province, southern China.

Surprisingly, Angustopila dominikae has some very big relatives - giant African land snails that are nine million times larger by volume.

Another of the newly described species, Angustopila subelevata, measures 0.87mm.

The scientists led by Dr Barna Pall-Gergely from Shinshu University in Japan, wrote in the journal ZooKeys: " Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment.

"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.

"We hope that these results provide the taxonomic groundwork for future studies concerning the evolution of dwarfism in invertebrates."

"Microsnails" are generally species with a shell smaller than five millimetres. The tiniest snails of all are those that live in the sea. A species called Ammonicera minortalis holds the small size record, ranging in length from 0.32mm to 0.46mm.

Press Association

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