Four new species of chameleon were found on the African island of Madagascar. With an average adult length of of just over an inch (2.9cm) from snout to tail, these are some of the tiniest reptiles in the world.
Scientists think the diminutive new chameleon species might represent extreme cases of island dwarfism, whereby organisms shrink in size due to limited resources on islands.
Scientists think Brookesia micra (juvenile shown in top picture) might have achieved its small size through a “double” island dwarfism effect, in which the dwarf species Brookesia minima on the Madagascan resort island of Nosy Be found its way to an islet, Nosy Hara, where it shrank even further.
Brookesia desperata peers at a photographer through widely spaced eyes in the second photo.
The small sizes of the four new chameleon species make them especially vulnerable to habitat destruction, and some of their names were chosen to reflect this. The latter part of B. desperata’s name, for example, means “desperate” in Latin.