An extremely small new chameleon species was discovered by German and American scientists. Named Brookesia micra, it is just 16 mm to 29 mm long and was found in Madgascar.
From the photo, one can see how it has been so easy to overlook and for a very long time. About 400 species of reptiles live in the natural areas of Madagascar, and many chameleon species are also found there. Quite a number of the large island’s endemic species are miniatures like dwarf lemurs, frogs and chameleons, such as Brokkesia micra.
“It is not accidental that the smallest species of a given taxonomic group often occur on islands. It is a typical and well known phenomenon,” said lead researcher Frank Glaw. (Source: IDW Online)
Endemic species that are newly discovered are often living in a compromised state due to destruction of their habitat. Also, they tend to live in a fairly small space and only there, which makes protection of certain wild natural areas even more important. A few square kilometers of land is all some of these species have, but in Madagascar currently illegal logging has become even more of a problem due to lack of conservation enforcement which has occurred because of political instability.
Of course there are also climate change impacts causing disruption of living conditions in certain areas. Animals living there are having to move north in order to find cooler temperatures, and land that is not so dried out.
Typically, the animals people identify are large and impressive, but who will care about what happens to the tiny creatures like these dwarf chameleons? One thing we can all do is reduce our climate change emissions.
If you want to read the whole study, go to the PLOS One website.
Image Credit: PLoS One