Monday, February 27, 2012

World’s Smallest Chameleon Discovered

World's smallest chameleon with a finger
Photo: Frank Glaw
Scientists have discovered a chameleon so small it could sit on your little finger.
The chameleon, which is about three centimetres long, lives on a small island called Nosy Hara, off the coast of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.
It is the smallest chameleon and possibly the smallest reptile ever discovered. It lives among rocks and leaves on the forest floor. At night it sleeps on plants, about five to 10 centimetres above the ground.
It is mostly grey and brown with an orange tail, and it doesn’t change colour like most chameleons do. The scientists say this is because it’s already the right colour to blend in with its surroundings.
The scientific name for the chameleon is Brookesia micraBrookesia means it belongs to a group known as leaf chameleonsMicra is from the Greek word forsmall or tiny.
Image: Jörn Köhler
The scientists say the chameleons may have gotten smaller and smaller over several generations in order to survive in a place where food and space are limited. When animals change in this way, it is called “island dwarfism.”
The chameleons’ home is being destroyed by people cutting down trees illegally.
Because this is the only place where these chameleons have been found, the scientists say this means they could be in danger of becoming extinct


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