A species of chameleon small enough to easily perch on a match head has been discovered on a tiny island off Madagascar, a group of scientists has announced.
In addition to the discovery of Brookesia micra, now the tiniest chameleon ever discovered, the researchers also announced the discovery of three additional tiny chameleon species.
The team of scientists found the tiny reptiles in Madagascar's wild northern regions during expeditions between 2003 and 2007. For three of the species, "we immediately identified them as new species," said Glaw, a veteran herpetologist and curator at the Museum of Natural History in Munich.
"In general, these tiny chameleons are so small that it's really hard to see the small differences with the naked eye," he said.
The researchers warn that at least two of the newly-discovered chameleon species are extremely threatened because of habitat loss and deforestation in Madagascar.
Species: Brookesia micra, Brookesia tristis, Brookesia desperata, Brookesia confidens Habitat: Northern Madagascar, within the leaf litter on the floor of rainforest and dry deciduous forest
They've got independently rotating eyes, a curiously curly tail, and strangely depressing names. Meet the world's tiniest – and cutest – chameleons.
Brookesia leaf chameleons are renowned for being small. Some of them – Brookesia minima, for example – are downright miniscule. From head to tail they are all between 22 and 48 millimetres. Four new species of these miniature reptiles have now been uncovered in northern Madagascar.
(A) adult male on black background, showing orange tail colouration; (B) juvenile on finger tip; (C) juvenile on head of a match; (D) habitat along a small creek on western flank of Nosy Hara, where part of the type series was collected.