One of our favorite Agents of Decay, snails, come in an extreme range of sizes. The largest on land, The Giant African snail, can measure up to 7 inches long. Now, with a shell only 0.86mm in height, scientists think they have found the smallest land snails ever.
The Angustopila dominikae snail, found in the Guangxi province of Southern China, is small enough to thread the eye of a needle.
Páll-Gergely, co-author of the study, said the extreme size of the snails could not be explained easily by evolution.
“It is not possible for snails to be much smaller than those discovered because the snails’ organs and cells cannot be smaller and a minimum number of cells are needed for the animal to exist.”
“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 is 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,” he added.
ImagesDr Barna Páll-Gergely and Nikolett Szpisjak./ZooKeys
Header ImageFlickr / Karen White