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Scientists discover world's tiniest snail species in Borneo

The researchers who discovered the record-setting species have been studying Malaysia's mollusks for more than 25 years.

By Brooks Hays
Scientists discover world's tiniest snail species in Borneo
Several Acmella nana specimens scattered among the small print of the ZooKeys journal in which the new species was described. Photo by Menno Schilthuizen/Naturalis Biodiversity Center

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Another new snail species, another world record broken.

It's only been a few weeks since the last world's tiniest snail was announced. But now it's a new team of scientists -- and a new species -- celebrating the crown.

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The shell of the new snail, Acmella nana, has an average diameter of just 0.7 milometers. Specimens of the new species were collected in Borneo, the Southeast Asian island shared by Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. {link: The last tiniest snail: "https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2015/09/29/Tiniest-ever-snail-species-found-in-China/1421443544269/" target="_blank"} on Earth, Angustopila dominikae, was found in China earlier this year.

Acmella nana was one of 48 new snail species found on the remote island and described in the journal ZooKeys.

The new paper was authored by Jaap Vermeulen, Thor-Seng Liew and Menno Schilthuizen, researchers with the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Malaysian University of Sabah. The researchers have been studying Malaysia's mollusks for more than 25 years.

Included in the latest round of discoveries are ten new species of "micro-jewel" snails from the genus Plectostoma.

Because tiny snails can cover so little ground, they evolve rather specific adaptations for their small patches of habitat. The phenomenon makes them a unique example of the nuances of biodiversity, but also quite ecologically vulnerable.

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"A blazing forest fire at Loloposon Cave could wipe out the entire population of Diplommatina tylocheilos," Schilthuizen pointed out in the latest paper.

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