Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageMiniature, micro-endemic chameleon found in Madagascar

By Igor I. Solar     Feb 15, 2012 in Science
Antananarivo - German zoologists have discovered in a small island off the coast of Madagascar a new species of chameleon that can be considered as the smallest vertebrate in the world; the tiny reptile measures only 29 mm from the nose to the tip of the tail.
The discovery of the new species of chameleon is reported in the latest issue of the journal PLoS ONE. The researchers from the Munich Zoological Institute and the Museum of Natural Science of Darmstadt found the teeny animal, which they named Brookesia micra, in an island of the Nosy Hara Archipelago, off the coast of Madagascar located in the southern Indian Ocean, east of Africa.
The habitat of this chameleon is an ecosystem not larger than 50 hectares, which constitutes a very restricted endemism (unique to a particular location).
The study reports on the discovery of three other species of dwarf chameleons in different parts of Madagascar close to the Nosy Hara archipelago, although with large genetic differences indicating that they evolved in different ecosystems and isolated from each other. “The newly discovered dwarf chameleon species represent striking cases of miniaturization and micro-endemism and suggest the possibility of a range size - body size relationship in Malagasy reptiles.
Miniature Chameleon Brookesia micra  possibly the smallest vertebrate on Earth.
Miniature Chameleon Brookesia micra, possibly the smallest vertebrate on Earth.
Frank Glaw, Jörn Köhler, Ted M. Townsend, Miguel Vences
The newly described Brookesia micra reaches a maximum snout-vent length in males of 16 mm, and its total length in both sexes is less than 30 mm, ranking it among the smallest vertebrates in the world. With a distribution limited to a very small islet, this species may represent an extreme case of island dwarfism.”
explain the researchers in their report.
Brookesia micra is a rather dull looking chameleon. It is brown and, contrary to other regular chameleons, is unable to change color. The researchers hypothesise that the tiny reptile may have lost the ability to modify its color because, since it lives among the brown, dry vegetation below the forest of the archipelago, it doesn’t have to change its appearance to mimic its environment.
Miniature Chameleon Brookesia micra  possibly the smallest vertebrate on Earth.
Miniature Chameleon Brookesia micra, possibly the smallest vertebrate on Earth.
Frank Glaw, Jörn Köhler, Ted M. Townsend, Miguel Vences
More about Chameleon, Madagascar, Nosy Hara
More news from
Latest News
Top News