New Snail So Small, You Can Fit 10 in Eye of Needle
Found in China, it may be the world's smallest
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2015 9:05 AM CDT
The new snail species, Angustopila dominikae.   (Dr. Barna P?ll-Gergely)

(Newser) – Researchers have discovered a new snail in China, but they can be forgiven for overlooking it previously. The shell of angustopila dominikae measures all of 0.03 inches, reports Live Science, which notes that 10 of them could fit inside the eye of a needle. In a press release, scientists say the creature is probably the smallest land snail in existence. They found it while examining soil samples near limestone cliffs in the Chinese province of Guangxi, and speculate that the snail probably spends most of its time on the side of those cliffs. A Cambridge zoologist theorizes that the snail shrank in size over eons as competition for resources grew more fierce, reports New Scientist.

“You can’t be much smaller if you want to be a complicated animal,” says a museum official in Wales. “And snails are pretty complex.” The new species is some 9 million times smaller than relatives such as the giant African land snail, notes New Scientist. Not much is known about the tiny creature, but the researchers say its discovery points the way toward more hunts and research into micro-sized creatures. As for the name: Dominika is the wife of one of the scientists from Japan's Shinhu University who found it. (Closer to home, New Englanders are worried about the discovery of a creature new to them, invasive Asian turtles.)