There’s a whole group of snails in the world that are teeny, teeny tiny: scientists call them “microgastropods” or “microsnails.” These small creatures are less than 0.2 inches tall, but there are so many species of microsnail in the world that they make up most of land snails’ diversity.
In Guangxi, China, a team of researchers just found seven new microsnails, the journal ZooKeys reports, including one that’s the smallest ever on record to date, with a height of just 0.03 inches.
To find snails this small and examine them, researchers sieve through soil samples, find the teeny snail shells, wet them in water, and brush them clean “using fine, tapered brushes, whereby each specimen was gently rotated back and forth between the brushes until it was sediment free,” the journal says.
These snails are approaching the limit of snail smallness, the lead researcher told the Guardian: “The snails’ organs and cells cannot be smaller and a minimum number of cells are needed for the animal to exist.”
So this might be it: the smallest snail in the entire world.
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