Washington: Four newly discovered species of miniaturized chameleons in Madagascar have been categorized among the smallest among the known reptiles in the world.
The minuscule lizards measure just tens of millimeters from head to tail. In some cases, they are even small enough to stand on the head of a match, Discovery News reported.
The chameleons, either tie or beat out the previous smallest lizard record-holder, the dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus ariasae.
Frank Glaw, lead author of the new paper and a researcher at the Zoological State Collection of Munich, insisted that the dwarf gecko’s snout-vent length is at most 18 mm, with a total length of 33 mm (1.3 inches).
The smallest of the new chameleon species, Brookesia micra, was found only on a very small islet called Nosy Hara, and the authors suggested that this species might signify an extreme case of island dwarfism.
“The extreme miniaturization of these dwarf reptiles might be accompanied by numerous specializations of the body plan, and this constitutes a promising field for future research,” Glaw said.
“But most urgent is to focus conservation efforts on these and other microendemic species in Madagascar which are heavily threatened by deforestation,” Glaw added.
The study has been published in the journal PLoS ONE.
First Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 18:33