The teeniest of land snails known to man is among 7 new species found in China.
Humans appear to be hard-wired to covet tiny things. As some kind of intrinsic insurance to make sure we adore our infants until they can function a bit more independently, we swoon for babies and in turn for other wee versions. From puppies and kittens to Fiats and tiny homes, we find little versions of larger things irresistibly cute.
Does the same hold true for a land snail? Well it’s kind of hard to say. There are no big eyes are fluffy fur, but seems to me that the world’s tiniest snail – measuring a mere 0.86 mm in shell height, is a good candidate for some cooing.
The newly discovered species of land snail, known from a single shell, has been named Angustopila dominikae (pictured below), after the wife of one of the researchers who discovered it in Guangxi Province, Southern China. Ringing in at under a millimeter, it is perhaps the world’s smallest land snail species. It could fit in the eye of a needle nearly 10 times.
While studying soil samples collected from the base of limestone rocks in the area, the scientists Barna Páll-Gergely, Takahiro Asami, Adrienne Jochum and András Hunyadi discovered a total of seven new species of mini mollusks.
"Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment," note the researchers. "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."
And they’re just so darn cute. If only they had cheeks to pinch.