A team of scientists have discovered the world’s smallest chameleon on a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar. The leaf litter dweller measures in at a whopping 16mm long. Pictured below, is an example of one of four new species discovered in this expedition, the juvenile of the species Brookesia micra.
The Brookesia micra was identified as the world’s tiniest chameleon species. It was found on a tiny island called Nosy Hara just off the coast of Madagascar. Three other distinct species of chameleon were also found. It inhabits the leaf litter on the forest floor and according to the report published in the journal PLoS One, it climbs on “low perches in the vegetation for sleeping”. You can see in the picture below, the beautiful habitat where scientists discovered the tiny amniote.
Dwarfism in vertebrates has been brought to center stage lately. Back in January, we reported the discovery of what was then thought to be the world’s smallest vertebrate. It was a tiny species of frog which similarly foraged in the leaf litter on the forest floor of Papua New Guinea. Miniaturization of species has brought about many new evolutionary theories. It also brings about new challenges for scientists to identify differences in the species.
While the news of a newly discovered species is very exciting, we’re also reminded of the fragility of these creatures. The Brookesia tristis, Latin for sorrowful, and the Brookesia desperata, Latin for desperate, both suffer from the consequences of deforestation and habitat loss. Hopefully discoveries like these will shed light on the importance of protecting these creatures and lead to better stewardship of their habitats.