In the family Vertiginidae the shell is very small, usually about 2mm. or less, and it is sub-cylindrical or oval in shape. The mouth often contains denticles (or "teeth"), and the mouth edge may be expanded slightly, but not thickened or strongly reflected. The shell may be smooth, finely ribbed or striated. The animal lacks the first pair of tentacles which are usually present in most gastropods.
The family is world-wide in distribution, and their habitats are varied. In Britain the Truncatellina species live in dry exposed calcareous places, often in grassy limestone screes. The Columella and Vertigo species tend to favour moist places.
The presence or absence of teeth and the number and position of teeth when present, are used in helping to identify the specimen.
The Vertiginidae of north west Europe may be divided into two subfamilies:
Subfamily Truncatellininae (genera: Columella, Truncatellina) in which the shell is relatively tall and cylindrical, and the mouth bears nil or 1 - 3 feeble teeth only.
Subfamily Vertigininae (genus: Vertigo) in which the shell is nearly oval and rather squat, occasionally sinistral. The mouth may bear up to 4 - 6 teeth.
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