Is this the world’s smallest snail?

tiny snail shell in eye of needle

While collecting soil samples in China’s Guanxi province, researchers discovered something very interesting (and very, very tiny). Meet Angustopila dominikae, a new species of microsnail that is so small, it’s said that 10 of them could fit inside the eye of a needle. Their shells alone are only 0.86mm in height! Angustopila dominikae could be the world’s tiniest snail.

The research team reported the discovery of seven new snail species in all—each one just barely visible to the naked eye. The nature of these microsnails is still a bit of a mystery, but Adrienne Jochum, a researcher from the University of Bern, has a few ideas on how these creatures survive.

Their tiny size gives them an advantage when it comes to surviving the elements. They could lodge their shells in cracks to avoid being swept away by harsh winds and rains, and the round shape of their shell would allow them to trap a bubble and float in water should flooding occur. Plus, predators will bypass them completely for the preference of a larger meal. As for food, Jochum believes their diet is probably similar to cave-dwelling snails, meaning meals of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungal filaments.

But is it the world’s smallest snail? Perhaps not: There is a species of sea snail from the Florida Keys, ammonicera minortalis, that is even smaller, with a shell size between 0.34-0.46 mm.