This Tiny Snail Fits Inside The Eye Of A Needle

Photo: Courtesy of Barna Páll-Gergely
This tiny species of snail is so small it can fit in the eye of a needle.
Researchers may have discovered the world's tiniest snails, including a species so small that the entire shell can fit in the eye of a needle. Some of the seven species of "microsnails" identified are believed to be "amongst the smallest land snails ever reported," the researchers wrote in a paper published this week in the peer-reviewed digital journal ZooKeys.

The shell samples were discovered in the Chinese province Guangxi, in soil samples near limestone rocks where the authors believe the species live. Barna Páll-Gergely, a co-author of the paper, told Refinery29 that he "immediately knew that they were new species, because nothing like that had been reported from China."

"I had not seen such tiny snails, so I was really happy," Páll-Gergely, a scientist from Japan's Shinshu university, wrote in an email. The mud-covered shells were washed using water and a tapered brush; then, they were viewed and photographed using a microscope camera, according to the paper.

One species, named Angustopila dominikae after Páll-Gergely's wife, measured, on average, just 0.86 millimeters, or 0.03 inches, tall. Cleaning that specimen was an especially harrowing experience, the scientist said.

"The single known shell of that species was almost entirely covered by mud; it was actually stuck in a mud grain," he wrote. "I knew that it was the only shell of a new species, and if I crushed it, I wouldn't be able to describe it."

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