‘Nano-Chameleon’: World’s Smallest Reptile That Can Fit Even On Your Fingertip

By: | February 3rd, 2021

Image courtesy: Frank Glaw

An international team of scientists has discovered a tiny new species of chameleon. They discovered these chameleons in a patch of rain-forest in northern Madagascar. Known as Brookesia nana or the nano-chameleon, it may be the smallest reptile on earth.

So far researchers have found just two specimens of Brookesia nana…it is a pair of male and a female. 

The Female was near twice the size of the male

Researchers found the female B. nana has a body length of 19 mm (0.7 in), or 29 mm (1.1 in) including the tail. But the male’s body length was just 13.5 mm (0.5 in) long, or 22 mm (0.9 in) including the tail. 

Both the specimens were mature adults

Researchers examined the specimens are not just juveniles. So, they performed micro-CT scans of the female. “With the aid of micro-CT scans—essentially three-dimensional X-rays—we were able to identify two eggs in the female specimen, and so demonstrate that it is an adult,” says Mark D. Scherz of the University of Potsdam. 

Similarly, they determined the sexual maturity of the male. They found that the male’s genitals were well-developed, signifying he was also sexually mature. Researchers found the male’s genitals were almost 20 percent of his total body size.

According to the researchers, the habitat of this tiny species is probably be limited to just a few acres. This fact could put it at risk of extinction.

Oliver Hawlitschek, the author of the study, said, “Unfortunately, the habitat of the Nano-Chameleon is under heavy pressure from deforestation, but the area has recently been designated as a protected area, and hopefully that will enable this tiny new chameleon to survive,” 

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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