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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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

By Wil Longbottom

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

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.

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.'

A real match: The three-centimetre chameleon is thought to be one of the smallest reptiles on the planet

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.



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