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World's New Tiniest Snail From Borneo

First Posted: Nov 03, 2015 09:04 PM EST

Researchers have discovered the world's tiniest land snail in Malaysian Borneo, according to a recent report. The new snail's shell comes in at just 0.50-0.60 mm width and 0.60-0.79 mm height. 

This team of Dutch and Malaysian biologists found the tiny snail amongst 47 new species of varying size snails. Called ‘dwarf' ("nanus" meaning "dwarf" in Latin) Acmella nana belongs to a group of widespread snails in Borneo that researchers had been familiar with for decades, but they had not yet named. However, others in the group are rare and had only recently been discovered by scientists. Prior to this, the previous holder that took the world's smallest snail title was the Chinese Angustopila dominikae--measuring in at just 0.80 and 0.89 mm respectively, according to officials. 

As snails are known for their "sluggish" pace, many can easily get stuck in small patches of habitat. There they can "spend long enough to evolve and adapt to the particular limited area, undisturbed by the rest of the world. This makes them excellent examples of how endemic species can arise," according to a news release.

Yet their restricted distribution makes them key targets for biodiversity conservation. "A blazing forest fire at Loloposon Cave could wipe out the entire population of Diplommatina tylocheilos," noted co-author Menno Schilthuizen, via the release. The Diplommatina tylocheilos only live at the entrance of the hardly accessible area in Mount Trusmadi.

The study is published in the journal ZooKeys

The new findings are based on over 25 years of research by Jaap Vermeulen, Thor-Seng Liew, and Menno Schilthuizen of Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Universiti Malaysia Sabah, have been documenting Malaysia's wonderful terrestrial molluscs.

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