The world’s tiniest chameleon, Brookesia micra, was discovered on a tiny island off Madagascar, scientists reported in February 2012. Adult males of the B. micra species grow to only just over a half-inch (16 millimeters) from nose to bottom, making them one of the smallest vertebrates ever found on Earth.
Brookesia micra is a species of chameleon from the islet of Nosy Hara in Antsiranana, Madagascar. As of 14 February 2012, it is the smallest known chameleon and among the smallest reptiles, small enough to stand on the head of a match. In length, adult Brookesia micra can grow up to 29 millimetres (1.1 in)
Brookesia micra is the smallest discovered species of chameleon. An adult grows in length to about only 2.9 centimeters. It is possible that the reptile’s small size is a product of insular dwarfism, a process and phenomenon by which some island species become progressively smaller.
El camaleón más pequeño actualmente, es el Brookesia micra,fue descubierto en la isla Nosy (Madagascar) de donde esta especie es endémica. Llegan a medir entre 1.5 y 2.5 cm en su etapa adulta. :-o
I’m actually going to show you several small dogs for the price of one, what a deal.
Back in the dark ages (2001), a tiny gecko was discovered in the Dominican Republic. Called Sphaerodactylus ariasae, or the Jaragua sphaero/Jaragua lizard to its friends, this critter is so small it can curl up around a dime.
A similar lizard was discovered in the US Virgin Islands in 1964 in the same genus- Sph. parthenopion.
These microgeckos are pretty much the smallest reptiles (they’re not even an inch long snout-to-vent), but they have some competition with four species of leaf chameleon in the genus Brookesia. These four species- confidens, desperata, micra, and tristis– or, “confident,” “desperate,” “small,” and “sad”– are also extremely itsy bitsy. Here’s Brookesia micra standing on the head of a match. The four species were defined in 2012.
If you include the tail, the geckos are a little larger; however, reptiles are measured from their snouts to their vents, so they all clock in at about the same, give or take a few microns.
The Brookesia chameleons are all threatened by population loss- that’s actually how desperata and tristis got their names, to provoke thought about the desperate and sad habitat situation in Madagascar. Here’s a female desperata with her eggs.
And here’s a tristis on somebody’s finger.
And then here’s a confidens walking on somebody’s hand (possibly the same somebody; the photographer’s the same in both).
If you’re ever in a position to be buying furniture and you want to help these small dogs, please consider not buying anything with Madagascar rosewood or Madagascar ebony in it; these tropical hardwoods are prized in US, European, and Chinese markets and the demand for tropical hardwood is the leading cause of deforestation in Madagascar. Madagascar is home to thousands of endemic species; destruction of their habitat means they’re gone for good. Protect the small dogs!
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized group of lizards. There are around 160 species of chameleon, found throughout Africa, Madagascar, and southern Europe, and across south Asia as far as Sri Lanka. Chameleons are easily distinguished from other lizard species by their zygodactylous feet (two toes pointing forwards, two toes pointing backwards), and eyes which are able to point in different directions. They also have tongues which can be shot out to capture prey and many have distinctive crests or horns and a prehensile tail.
Chameleons are infamous for their colour changing abilities, but not all species are able to. The strength of their colour changing also varies between species, with some utilising it as camouflage whereas others utilise it for communication or thermoregulation.
Though they may seem ungainly and obvious when travelling across the ground, chameleons are well adapted to their environments. Most live in foliage, where their zygodactyl feet and tail enable them to climb confident along branches. Combined with a swaying gait and a generally green appearance they are often difficult to spot in their native habitats!
However not all chameleons are arboreal. Most species from the subfamily Brookesiinae, live low in vegetation or on the ground. They tend to be brown with cryptic colouration which camouflages them amongst leaf litter.
Chameleons vary greatly in size and body structure, from 15mm (0.59in) in male Brookesia micra (one of the world’s smallest reptiles) to 68.5cm (27.0in) in the male Furcifer oustaleti.
Due to their interesting appearance several species are commonly kept within captivity. However they are not easy to keep in captivity and many do not thrive unless husbandry exacts replicates their native habitats. The importation of wild individuals often results in the death of hundreds of animals as the conditions in which they are transported as substandard. Overcollection for the pet trade is also a threat to some species wild populations. On the other hand other species have been introduced to Hawaii, California, and Florida, where populations of non-native reptiles impact the native habitat.
“…One of the world’s tiniest lizards has been discovered by keen-eyed researchers in Madagascar. The miniature chameleon, Brookesia micra, reaches a maximum length of just 29mm. German scientists also found a further three new species in the north of the island. The lizards were limited to very small ranges and scientists are concerned they could be at risk from habitat disturbance…”