ESCARG-WHOA! Snails So Small You Can Fit 10 In A Needle's Eye

The discovery of these "microsnails" in China is big news in the scientific community.
Dr. Barna Páll-Gergely/Nikolett Szpisjak.

China has the biggest population of people -- and the smallest land snails.

Researchers in in Guangxi Province in southern China have discovered a new species of land snail that measures a mere 0.86 mm in shell height.

The species, called angustopila dominikae, is so small that 10 of the snails can fit into the eye of a needle, according to The Guardian.

The scientists who made the discovery, Barna Páll-Gergely and Takahiro Asami from Shinshu University; Adrienne Jochum of the University and Natural History Museum of Bern; and András Hunyadi, discovered seven new snail species in all, according to a paper in the journal Zookeys.

The tiny snails were found in a sample of soil at the base of a limestone cliff in Guangxi, just north of Vietnam.

Many details about how the snails live are still unknown. Jochum said that based on what's known about other cave-dwelling snails, it's likely these tiny creatures feed on microorganisms like bacteria and fungal filaments, according to

Jochum also hypothesized that the round shape of the shells of these new species may allow these snails to wedge themselves into tiny cracks in rocks, or to float in water if necessary.

Adrienne Jochum

Pall-Gergely said the discovery of the small snails has big implications for scientists and the public.

"Extremes in body size of organisms not only attract attention from the public, but also incite interest regarding their adaptation to their environment,"Pall-Gergely said, according to the Daily Record. "We hope that these results provide the taxonomic groundwork for future studies concerning the evolution of dwarfism in invertebrates."

As small as this snail species is, it doesn't hold the record for smallest snail. That honor goes to ammonicera minortalis, a species of sea snail ranging in length from 0.32 mm to 0.46 mm.

By comparison, the largest land snail is the African giant snail, which measures 15.5 inches, or 39.4 cm, from snout to tail, according to Guinness World Records.

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