Scientists In Madagascar Discover The World's Tiniest Lizard No Bigger Than The Size Of A Seed

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Scientists In Madagascar Discover The World's Tiniest Lizard No Bigger Than The Size Of A Seed

Scientists working on the African island nation of Madagascar believe they have found the smallest lizard in the world, a chameleon the same size as a seed.

Named the 'Brookesi nana', or 'nano-chameleon', the tiny creature has a body that is just 13.5mm long, or 22mm in total from head to tail (that's less than an inch).

The paper detailing the existence of the lizard was published in the journal 'Scientific Reports' after the discovery by a German-Madagascan expedition documenting lizards on the island. The paper states:

"The new chameleon is only known from a degraded montane rainforest in northern Madagascar and might be threatened by extinction."

Dr. Mark D. Scherz, who was involved in the discovery, wrote on his blog:

"Brookesia nana is found in the dwindling rainforests of the Sorata Massif in northern Madagascar. These forests are quite well connected (for the time being) with others across northern Madagascar, and so this tiny new chameleon violates the pattern of the smallest species being found on small islands. That suggests that something else is allowing/causing these chameleons to miniaturise."

At present, only two of the tiny chameleons have been found and researchers have no idea how many of them could be living in the wild or to what degree they are at risk from extinction. They also know very little about the chameleon's behaviour, including their feeding and breeding patterns. A research will be undertaken over the coming months and years to gain a better understanding of these tiny creatures. What is known, from the two chameleons found, is that the female appears to be much larger than the male, something that is not rare in animal species.

What is also known is that the forests which the chameleons inhabit are being systematically removed to make way for farmland and for logging. This, in turn, will likely affect whatever number of the tiny chameleons are left in the wild. However, some areas of the forest have now been placed under protected status, giving at least some opportunity for the species to be maintained.

Oliver Hawlitschek, of the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, stated:

"The nano-chameleon's habitat has unfortunately been subject to deforestation, but the area was placed under protection recently, so the species will survive."

The scientists who found the chameleons have now suggested that the species should be immediately be classified as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which will in turn likely lead to greater protections being placed over the forests.

[h/t: BBC]

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Thinking Humanity: Scientists In Madagascar Discover The World's Tiniest Lizard No Bigger Than The Size Of A Seed
Scientists In Madagascar Discover The World's Tiniest Lizard No Bigger Than The Size Of A Seed
Scientists working on the African island nation of Madagascar believe they have found the smallest lizard in the world, a chameleon the same size as a
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