The research team from the Eötvös Loránd Research Network in Hungary found the world’s smallest species of snail. The height of the shell is only about 0.48 millimeters. With a volume of 0.036 cubic millimeters, it takes 5 of these snails to match the average size of a grain of sand.
The new species, named Angustopila psammonion, was found in soil sediments in a cave in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.
Angustopila psammonion broke the record for the smallest snail previously held by Angustopila pallgergelyi which was discovered in 2014 in Thailand.
To find this snail shell, researchers took a sample of cave soil, put it in a container filled with water, and cleaned up floating debris. Then the soil sample is dried, then examined through a microscope.
Researchers believe that this species did not live in caves, but came from the forest and was dragged into the cave where it was later found by researchers.
“We assumed that the sediment [containing this snail] had entered through the cave crevices, because [these snails] have gastropod shells [typical among surface-dwelling terrestrial snails and [have undergone] bleaching. These snails may live deep in limestone crevices or close to the root system of [trees].” said
– Páll-Gergely, one of the researchers who discovered this new species of snail –
In another study, a team also led by Páll-Gergely found micro-snails—but not the smallest snails—from the Bolikhamsai province, Laos and have very unique characteristics.
Angustopila coprologos, the name of the species, has a grainy texture that decorates its shell. Uniquely, these granules are made apart from a separate structure from the shell. Researchers believe these granules are made of mud, or may also come from snail droppings.
“This Laotian species is interesting because during its lifetime it has deposited mud grains (which may have been their own feces), like small mosaic stones, with a clear pattern of radial and regularly spaced lines on the surface,” the researchers wrote in a research paper published in Contribution to Zoology. early 2022.
Páll-Gergely added, this small size has advantages such as being able to reach rock crevices that its competitors cannot reach.
In addition, the very small size makes these species increasingly difficult to be seen or hunted by predators.