Seven species of ridiculously tiny snails including the smallest ever found have been recently discovered in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.
We’re talking really small
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The recently discovered snails that, quite simply, can’t be explained by evolution warrant the use of a thesaurus. I don’t have one available right now, so we will simply use easy variations of small preceded with “really” or “very” despite my seventh grade English teacher Ms. Malek presently rolling around in her grave.
The smallest, named Angustopila dominikae after the wife of one of scientists involved in the study, could fit inside of the eye of a standard sewing needle with plenty of room for friends and family members. As “standard” is hardly a uniform measurement, imagine about six of them fitting comfortably on a match head.
This species has a shell that at its widest measures 0.88 millimeters across (0.03 inches) and are the smallest land snails yet discovered.
Tiny snail – Specific to the region
Barna Páll-Gergely, co-author and scientist from Shinshu university in Japan couldn’t hide his his excitement with the “really really tiny” snails but doesn’t expect to find them elsewhere.
“These are very probably extreme endemic species. If we find them in more than one locality that is somewhat surprising,” he said.
The closest discovered “microsnails” to the new species requires a nearly 700 mile trip to Thailand.
“We cannot explain their size by adaptation to the environment. For very tiny insects we can guess the evolutionary reason why they evolved like that, but in the case of snails it is much more difficult. The whole family of species are all very small and their common ancestor, which lived maybe 60 million years ago was also very small. Since then this very tiny species survived somehow in different geographical areas and under different climates,” added Páll-Gergely.
Another snail scientist chimes in on the find
Eike Neubert, a researcher at Bern’s Natural History Museum who did not participate in the find or the paper struggled to hide his enthusiasm according to Newsweek, “this is a superb study on usually overlooked species of snails. People are not aware that the world is full of microscopic life beyond the level of bacteria or unicellular organisms.” He continued by explaining that snails are really small and “beyond the magic boundary of public awareness.”
“The world is full of small snails,” he says, “on land as well as in the seas or in the freshwater.”