The newly discovered Angustopila dominikae is a really tiny snail. With a shell height of just .86 millimeters, nearly 10 of the creatures could fit into the eye of a sewing needle.

The researchers who describe the new species in a study published Monday in ZooKeys believe it to be the smallest land snail ever found. The single empty shell used to identify it as a unique species was found in a soil sample at the base of limestone rocks in southern China, so the researchers can't determine too much about it. But they believe it lives on the surface of the limestone, as some other tiny snails have been known to do.

Dominikae actually comes with a close contender for second-smallest land snail, too: Angustopila subelevata, a snail described in the same paper, has a shell about .87 millimeters high on average. 

An additional five new species are also described, all around 1 or 2 millimeters at the largest point in their shells.

Finding and identifying a shell the size of a (really small) piece of gravel is obviously a challenge, so it's possible that even smaller critters have evaded detection. 

"Investigating tiny-shelled land snails is important for assessing biodiversity and natural history as well as for establishing the foundation for studying the evolution of dwarfism in invertebrate animals," the authors write in the study. They hope to determine the evolutionary process by which some land snails became so tiny while others have grown massive, but they write that they'll need to collect and identify more species first.

Dominikae may sound impossibly tiny, but the new species dwarfs its cousins in the sea. The smallest marine snail, Ammonicera minortalis, grows no bigger than .46 millimeters, and can be as small as .32 millimeters at the widest point of its shell.

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