Recently, scientists have discovered a new species of Chameleon in North Madagascar. Now this may not seem like a huge discovery, but the real excitement is the sheer size of these lizards. They have now been confirmed the world’s smallest reptiles to date which previously belonged to the dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus ariasae. The new species has been named Brookesia Micro and is thought to been an extreme case of island dwarfism. Scientists believe that Brookeria broke off from a separate species of Chameleon, which then evolved a mutated gene which subsequently has been passed on down the generation to produce a super dwarf species which is only found on very small islet called Nosy Hara in Northern Madagascar.
In all its glory, the Chameleon at its full-grown length only reaches lengths of up to 18mm. To put that into perspective it’s around half the length of your finger nail!
Now some may ask what is island dwarfism and how exactly does it come about? Well, by definition it is the process and condition of the reduction in size of a large animal over many generations. It occurs when one individual organism has a mutated gene which causes severe growth defects. It is usually found to affect animals which population range is limited to a small area, primarily an island or an isolated ecosystem. This is a natural process is seen all over the world and through history giving birth to dwarfs breeds. It has been seen to occur in Dinosaurs, modern animals including Elephants, Lizards and Rodents. In theory it could happen to any species of animal given the right conditions!
Written by Jack Caulfield