New chameleon species may be the world’s tiniest reptile

New chameleon species may be the world's tiniest reptile
CREDIT Frank Glaw

New chameleon species may be the world’s tiniest reptile.

SCIENTISTS from Madagascar and Germany believe a newly discovered species of chameleon could well be the world’s smallest reptile.

The body of the male specimen appears to be just 13.5 millimetres-long – about the size of a sunflower seed – and fits on the tip of a human finger.

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Frank Glaw of the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich, who was part of the international team of researchers that classified the new species and named it Brookesia nana, said the specimen is at least 1.5 millimetres smaller than the previous record holder.

This too was a member of the Brookesia family.

So far, scientists have observed just two individuals: one male and one female, both of which were captured in 2012 on an expedition to a cluster of cool, rainy mountains known as the Sorata massif.

“You really have to get down on your knees to find them,” Glaw told The Associated Press on Friday, February 5. “They are obviously camouflaged and they move very slowly.”

A CT scan of the female discovered two, while the make had “well-developed genitals”.

“I have few doubts it’s an adult male,” Glaw told AP. “If we had a pair mating it would obviously be better proof.”

He added that more would need to be found to confirm the Brookesia nana as the smallest reptile species, and that could take many years.

But Andolalao Rakotoarison, a Malagasy herpetologist and co-author of the new study published in Nature, is excited about the find and its implications.

“At the first glance, we realised that it was an important discovery,” he said.

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