Snails are awesome little creatures. They’re like slugs, but they have a protective shell that they can retract into when they feel threatened. The shell is essentially the snail’s protective home, and it lives and sleeps inside of it. Snails take their homes with them everywhere they go, right on their back.
Interestingly however, scientists appear to have discovered a new species of snail in Southern China while taking soil samples for another scientific project, but what makes these snails so special isn’t their shell, per-se, but instead, it’s their size.
The small snail, being called the Angustopila dominikae is so small that ten of them could fit inside of the hair-thin eye of a sewing needle, as shown in the picture below:
The shell itself measures in at a mere .86mm, making them what scientists believe are the smallest land snails ever discovered. As a result, they’re being referred to as “Microsnails.” It’s difficult to see them with the naked eye, but it’s absolutely possible to do so. They’re best seen under a magnifying lens of some kind for the best detail.
These are probably the best example for how small a snail can get, because the requirements for the snail’s body are so many of certain kinds of cells, which take up X amount of space, and any fewer cells would mean incomplete organs or incomplete body parts. After all, cells are only so small.
The reason that they are so small baffles experts. There is really no evolutionary reason for why they are the size that they are; being so small makes them easy targets for critters looking for a quick snack.
“Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment,” lead author Páll-Gergely, from Shinshu University in Japan, 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.”
Along with the Angustopila dominikae, six other species of microsnails were discovered in the area, including the Angustopila subelevata, which is only slightly larger than the latter.
Little is known about these microsnails at this point in time, including what they might survive on, or why they’re there, but scientists hope to learn more over time by studying the animals.
Source: Discovery News