Even the smallest discoveries can have big impacts on what we know of our ancient world.

That's why scientists are excited by the discovery of an insect - an arthropod to be precise - that may be left over from before the last ice age. 

Known as "Haplocampa wagnelli," the tiny species of insects called diplurans was discovered in a limestone cavern near Port Alberni last summer, according to the study published in the journal Subterranean Biology.

The newly-discovered, tiny insects are one of the northernmost colonies ever found, and are named after scientist Craig Wagnell, who discovered the new diplurans.

"I said I'd really like it if was named after my maiden name," said Wagnell, "having no children and having a unique name, I'd like to keep the name going."

The bugs share similarities with other species found in continental Asia and the southern Japanese islands, leading scientists to believe they may have crossed over the Bering Land Bridge, the ancient stretch of land that connected northeastern Russia with western Alaska.

The study claims the species could be between 75,000 and 11,000 years.

Wagnell said at first he didn't see the tiny creature when it was caught directly under his light. It wasn't until he'd returned to process the photos and send the best to his colleague when he that he noticed the haplocampa.

"It turned it into basically a white light, so it was really hard to see what it was at first," Wagnell said of reviewing the digital photographs he'd taken. He used photo-editing software to correct the image and see his discovery. 

Don't expect to see one of these with the naked eye anytime soon, even if you find yourself in a limestone cavern complex says Wagnell.

"It's only about five milimetres, from the tip of his antennae to the bottom."