BEACON TRANSCRIPT – World’s tiniest snail is discovered in Borneo alongside 47 new species of different sized snails. According to researchers the animal’s shell only measures about 0.50-0.60 mm width and 0.60-0.79 mm height.
A team of both Malaysian and Dutch researchers discovered the tiny snail in the rainforest of Kalimantan island during the course of a long time research on mollusks. The specimen has been named Acmella nana (“nanus” meaning small in latin) and has broken the record for the world’s tiniest snail only weeks after a different specimen had been found and had claimed the title in Southern China.
The discovery of 48 new snail species may sound like a preposterous number but snails are actually one of the most commonly found living beings on the planet and are also incredibly diverse. In this case, all of the species found by researchers were land snails discovered in the same Malaysian region known as Sabah, which is very ecologically diverse.
The biodiversity encountered in the area is also not unexpected as Malaysia is one of only 17 countries in the world to be considered as megadiverse, which means that they harbor a majority of the Earth’s species and also contain a large number of endemic species.
Obtaining the name was a great feat since Malaysia is such a small country. Most of the countries that are considered to be megadiverse have a much bigger size (the list includes countries such as China and the U.S.).
The snail is extremely difficult to find and observe in the wild, not only because of its small frame but also because of its translucent nature. Scientists involved in the research had to use microscopes in order to locate and study the creature.
However, the finding was not completely coincidental as the region in which the researchers conducted their observation was very well known for its biodiversity and for the unusual amount of species of snails inhabiting it.
The research party focused on Borneo’s limestone hills which have very favorable conditions for snails to live in, as the mollusks are able to use the calcium carbonate within the limestone in order to make their shells.
Scientists collected soil and litter from the area, specifically from beneath the limestone cliffs and then sifted through the material in order to identify the creatures. They sunk the collected soil into water, at which point the snail shells floated while the earth sunk and then picked up the creatures and studied them under the microscope.
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