Minature Chameleons Discovered

Match-tip tiny, Brookesia micra  is the smallest of four new chameleon species found on the African island country of Madagascar.
With an average adult length of just over an inch (2.9 centimeters) from snout to tail, B. micra is among the tiniest reptiles in the world.

Scientists think the diminutive new chameleon species might represent extreme cases of island dwarfism, whereby organisms shrink in size due to limited resources on islands.

"The extreme miniaturization of these dwarf reptiles might be accompanied by numerous specializations of the body plan, a
nd this constitutes a promising field for future research," study leader Frank Glaw of Germany's Zoological State Collection said in a statement.

Putting the cute in cuticle

Not Amused

On Madagascar a member of the newly discovered chameleon species Brookesia desperata peers at a photographer through widely spaced eyes.

The small sizes of the four new chameleon species make them especially vulnerable to habitat destruction, and some of their names were chosen to reflect this.
The latter part of B. desperata's name, for example, means "desperate" in Latin.

"Its habitat is in truth barely protected and subject to numerous human-induced environmental problems resulting in severe habitat destruction,
thus threatening the survival of the species," the scientists write.

The Terror of Tiny Town
Photograph courtesy Frank Glaw

Although the four new chameleon species look very similar (B. micra pictured),
genetic analyses suggest the reptiles are in fact different species, according to the new study

Steely Gaze

Watch Your Step
Photograph courtesy Frank Glaw

The smallest of the newly discovered chameleon species, Brookesia micra, was found near this small creek on the islet of Nosy Hara in northern Madagascar.
Scientists think the lizards live in leaf litter on the ground during the day but move up into the trees at night to sleep.


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