Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Discovered: The mini-meleon that is one of the smallest reptiles on the planet

By Wil Longbottom, Daily Mail

Last updated at 8:17 AM on 15th February 2012


His species is renowned for its ability to blend in, but this tiny critter is even better than most as the world's smallest chameleon.

Balanced on the tip of a scientist's fingernail in Madagascar, the-three centimetre reptile is no bigger than the flies that form his average-sized cousin's lunch.

Scientists discovered four new species - called Brookesia micra - on a small islet just off the main island.


Tiny: This chameleon is smaller than a finger nail and was discovered on an islet off Madagascar

This particular chameleon is now thought to be one of the smallest reptiles on the planet.

Ted Townsend, of San Diego State University, carried out genetic testing on the new species.

He said: 'Their size suggests that chameleons might have evolved in Madagascar from small and inconspicuous ancestors, quite unlike the larger and more colourful chameleons most familiar to us today.'

Hard to spot: Scientists believe chameleons may have evolved on Madagascar

The new additions to the chameleon species are only found in an area just a few square miles in size.

Experts believe they may be especially sensitive to habitat destruction.


To paraphrase George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), this morning, just at the moment when I had given up all hope in mankind, I read about the discovery of the "mini-meleon"  in Madagascar.

Like most people, I expect, including all children, I love chameleons and marvel at their existence.  How great would it be to be able to change one's coloring for protective camouflage at will.  However practical it might be as an exercise, it also looks like the most fun in the world (except for flying, and chameleons can counterfeit that action pretty well too as they take long leaps from ground onto walls or trees and back again).  

I remember seeing my first chameleons when I was 16 or 17 years old and visiting Puerto Rico with my parents.  I watched them constantly.  That was the trip where I felt the effects of alcohol for the first time.  They ordered me one of those pina coladas served in a large green hollowed-out coconut.  It was delicious and there's a photo of me somewhere looking very tanned, relaxed and thoughtful.  I suppose I'm still thoughtful, but I think I'd prefer to be tanned and relaxed.

Scientist Ted Townsend better not have harmed one scale on that mini-meleon’s head or body.

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