After just about one month since the discovery of the tinniest land snail on the planet, Borneo mollusk shatters record for world’s smallest snail. An international team of biologists found the specimen on the island of Borneo, in East Malaysia.
The snail’s shell measures just 0.027 inches in height, while the previous record holder, which was found in Guangxi Province in China, has a shell height of 0.033 inches. The Guangxi snail, also known as Angustopila dominikae, is so small that ten members of the species could fit into the eye of a sewing needle.
Yet, a team of Malaysian and Dutch researchers claim that their newly found snail is even smaller. They dubbed the animal Acmella nana since ‘nanus’ in Latin means ‘dwarf.’ The team said that the newly discovered species is so small that they needed a microscope to analyze it.
Yet, finding the snail was not similar to looking for a needle in a haystack since the research team knew where snails were plentiful in Borneo: its humid limestone hills. Land snails like limestone because their shells contain a lot of calcium carbonate, which is the main compound in the sedimentary rock.
Menno Schilthuizen, co-author of the finding and researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, explained how the team found the snail. Schilthuizen said that he and colleagues went to a limestone hill and stuffed heavy-duty plastic bags with dirt, litter, and soil from the hill.
Next the team sieved the contents of the bags, and they put larger lumps into a bucket full with water. Afterwards, they stirred the water a lot until sand and soil sank to the bottom. Because snail shells have a bubble of air inside they tend to float.
At the end, researchers picked the floating shells and analyzed them in laboratory. Researchers added that from a few liters of liquid they can harvest tens of thousands of snail shells including the very small ones.
Yet, researchers were not able to tell what the tinniest snail in the world eats since they weren’t able to catch a live specimen. But the team assumes that it may feed on thin layers of bacteria and fungi dwelling on the wet surfaces of limestone in caves just like a related snail species does.
Researchers found the tiny snail on three sites in Malaysian Borneo, so scientists are confident that it wouldn’t face extinction if one of its habitats was destroyed.
A paper on the intriguing new snail and 47 freshly-found snail species was published Monday in the online journal ZooKeys.
Image Source: Pixabay
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