The world's smallest known terrestrial snail has just been discovered in China.
The snail, Angustopila dominikae, measures just .03 inches tall - nearly 10 of them could fit into the eye of a sewing needle.
Named after the wife of lead author Barna Páll-Gergely from Shinshu University, the snail is described in the journal ZooKeys.
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"Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment," Páll-Gergely and his team wrote.
"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 (lacking a backbone) animals."
The scientists found the snail while examining soil samples collected from the base of limestone rocks in Guangxi Province, Southern China. Seven snails were found, represented just by their now-empty light grey shells.
The researchers also found six other new small species of terrestrial snails. Yet another of the new species, Angustopila subelevata, was a tiny fraction larger than A. dominikae. Both are considered "microsnails." They are also sometimes called "micromolluscs."
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It can be challenging to discover such animals. The molluscs are delicate, often overlooked, and are rarely found alive. The bodies degrade long before the shells do. Not much is known about how many different microsnails might exist in this particular ecosystem, not to mention, elsewhere in the world.
The researchers also do not know yet what the snail might eat, or what the evolutionary relationship is between the different species.