Tiny Chameleon Just Discovered in Madagascar is a ‘Spectacular Case of Extreme Miniaturization’
A chameleon has been declared by science to be the smallest reptile in the world today.
The man brookesia nana or “nano-chameleon” is less than an inch long, while females stretch a little over an inch.
Chameleons are famous for their extended sniper rifle tongues, their ability to change color, and their fun little oven mitt-like hands that allow them to cling to tree branches. secondrookesia nana on the contrary, it is more comfortable on the forest floor and cannot even change color.
“Extremely miniaturized animals are generally believed to face physiological challenges that limit further size reductions, yet miniaturization has evolved independently many times.” explain to research scientists Frank Glaw et al. in his article describing the details of the little lizard.
“The repeated evolution of such an extreme phenotype suggests that [natural] selection can often favor their emergence, but today our understanding of miniaturization and the underlying evolutionary pressures is far from complete. “
Small body, big problems
Examples of extreme miniaturization are fascinating for scientists to study, as the overwhelming majority of vertebrates increase in size as they age.
Compared to his body size, the male brookesia nana It has the third largest reproductive organ of any of the dwarf chameleons and the fifth largest of the 52 tested chameleons from other species. This is believed to be an absolute necessity, the scientists explained, as if it were smaller it might not be able to reproduce at all.
At one mm long, the “hemipenis”, an internally stored sex organ, is as large as the chameleon’s head, which was actually the piece of the puzzle that confirmed without a doubt that it was indeed an adult male when that scientists were looking at. and not a minor.
In the genre Brookesia there was already a “brookesia micra ” Forcing the team to create the even smaller designation for the new member, as he was 2mm shorter in body length.
Glaw and the team point out that there is an interesting paradigm known as “Island rule” that the nano-chameleon seems to reinforce, which states that on islands, small mammal species tend to grow while large mammal species tend to grow smaller compared to their closest relatives on the mainland.
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However, in the case of reptiles, this trend is observed in the opposite direction, as small reptiles get smaller and large reptiles get bigger when they are confined to the beaches of an island; for which the easiest examples are this chameleon and the Komodo dragon, both of which reside on islands and are currently considered the smallest and largest reptiles in the world.
Immediately recommended for the IUCN list of endangered species, the Malagasy government consecrated the forest in which the chameleon is found as a protected area known as COMATSA Nord, hopefully buying enough time to allow scientists to study it further and form a conservation action plan.
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Brookesia nana it is yet another example of how many extraordinary animals exist in our world, and are waiting to be found.
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