Mini-Chameleon Discovered in Madagascar

Inch-long Brookesia micra the result of island dwarfism
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2012 1:34 AM CST
Mini-Chameleon Discovered in Madagascar
Researchers believe the chameleon is about as small as a creature with complex eyes can get.   (PLoS ONE)

A tiny island off the coast of Madagascar is home to the smallest chameleon ever discovered. Scientists believe Brookesia micra, which is just over an inch long, is the result of a double case of "island dwarfism," in which island species shrink as they evolve to adjust to their restricted habitat, the BBC reports.

Spotting the tiny creatures as it slumbered on branches in a dark forest was no easy task, say researchers, although capturing it was a cinch. "They are sleeping and you can just pick them up. It's like picking a strawberry," the lead researcher says. "They do not move at all at night." Other sharp-eyed scientists recently found the world's smallest frog, which is only a quarter the size of the mini-chameleon. (Read more Madagascar stories.)

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