Madagascar small chameleons discovery


Tiny chameleon, Brookesia micra juvenile on a match, photo Joern Koehler

From ScienceDaily:

Tiny Chameleons Discovered in Madagascar: Small Enough to Stand On the Tip of a Finger

ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2012) — Four new species of miniaturized lizards have been identified in Madagascar. These lizards, just tens of millimeters from head to tail and in some cases small enough to stand on the head of a match, rank among the smallest reptiles in the world.

The full report can be found in the Feb. 15 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Frank Glaw of the Zoological State Collection of Munich in Germany, also conducted a genetic analysis to determine that the mini lizards, though similar in appearance, are in fact distinct species. The smallest of the new species, Brookesia micra, was found only on a very small islet called Nosy Hara, and the authors suggest that this species may represent an extreme case of island dwarfism.

“The extreme miniaturization of these dwarf reptiles might be accompanied by numerous specializations of the bodyplan, and this constitutes a promising field for future research.” says Frank Glaw. “But most urgent is to focus conservation efforts on these and other microendemic species in Madagascar which are heavily threatened by deforestation.”

See also here. And here. And here.

Chameleon illustration, circa 1867. Bilder-Atlas zur wissenschaftlich-populären Naturgeschichte der Wirbelthiere, Wien :K.K. Hof-und Staatsdruckerei, 1867: here.

The More Rainbow Bright a Chameleon, the Greater His Battle Prowess: here.

The 615 new species found on Madagascar between 1999 and 2010 are described in the WWF report Treasure Island: New Biodiversity in Madagascar. Most of these species do not have an official conservation status yet. All, however, face the danger of extinction from rampant deforestation. Check out these glamorous pictures of new animals found on the world’s fourth largest island: here.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 17, 2012) — Germán Chávez and Diego Vásquez from the Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI) in Peru have discovered a new colorful lizard which they named Potamites montanicola, or “mountain dweller.” The new species was found in Cordillera de Vilcabamba and Apurimac river valley, the Cusco Region of Peru at altitude ranging from 1,600 to 2,100 meters: here.

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