Finding a new species nowadays is a rare event but it still occurs which is surprising to me.
Researchers have recently discovered four new chameleon species, which rank among the world’s tiniest reptiles.
Adults of the smallest species are just over an inch from snout to tail.
The four new species belong to the genus Brookesia, also known as the leaf chameleons, which live in remote rainforests in northern Madagascar. The genus is already known to contain some very small species, with members typically resembling juvenile versions of larger species.
As small as these guys are, a super-tiny dwarf gecko found in the British Virgin Islands might be just a tad more wee.
Since the chameleons all look extremely similar, researchers used genetic analysis to determine that they belonged to separate species.
Brookesia species tend to live within a very small range. Half the members of this genus are found in only a single location and the smallest of the newly found species — Brookesia micra — lives only on a small island called Nosy Hara. Extreme miniaturization of this sort is common in island populations. Known as island dwarfism, it may occur due to limited resources and pressure to reproduce faster.
“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,” said herpetologist Frank Glaw, lead author of the study, in a press release. “But most urgent is to focus conservation efforts on these and other microendemic species in Madagascar which are heavily threatened by deforestation.”