Chameleons are usually called lizards thatlive in trees and can change their body color. There are about 90 species of chameleons in the world and most of them are about 30 centimeters long. But relatively recently, on the territory of the island of Madagascar, the smallest chameleons in the world with a length of no more than 25 millimeters were discovered. Finding them was very difficult, because searches are usually carried out at night, when the animals sleep on the branches of trees. In the course of studying animals new to science, it was found that males have genitals that are giant relative to their bodies. Scientists also tried to find out why evolution has endowed these animals with such tiny sizes. Just think - these chameleons are smaller than some insects like crickets and even more so beetles! Scientists already have answers to our questions and they shared them.
The smallest reptile in the world
The discovery of a new species of chameleons wastold in the scientific publication Gizmodo. The new species was named Brookesia nana, that is, they belong to the genus Brookesia. This is the name for small chameleons, which have a small and slightly curled tail. There are often jagged outgrowths above their eyes, and the body color is brown or brownish - so they can disguise themselves as fallen leaves. All representatives of the brookesia genus live exclusively on the island of Madagascar and cannot be found in other parts of our planet. Even if they find themselves in foreign territory, they are unlikely to survive, because there they will not be able to disguise themselves from predators.
Brookesia nana male chameleons do not growmore than 25 millimeters. But the body length of females can reach 4 centimeters and this is completely normal. Scientifically, the difference between males and females is called sexual dimorphism. Another feature of males is that they have huge genitals relative to their bodies. According to the author of the scientific work Miguel Vences, large genitals are needed to successfully mate with large females.
It is important to note, that Brookesia nana chameleons cannot changeyour color. They live in places where a color change is not necessary - the existing skin tone masks them so well against the background of fallen leaves. And if you would like to know how chameleons change their color, welcome to our channel in Yandex Zen. Everything is written there in detail.
Features of Madagascar animals
The researchers emphasized that chameleons and manyother animals in Madagascar have small body sizes because the island is highly isolated from the rest of the world. And some species of animals, on the contrary, are too large. For example, on the similarly isolated island of Malta, once upon a time you could meet elephants the size of a dog. And in New Zealand, Moa birds lived with a height of about 3.5 meters. I talked about them in detail in the article about the largest animals in the world. Herpetologist Andolalao Rakotoarison noted that the smallest monkeys and frogs can be found in Madagascar.
Herpetology - a branch of science that studies amphibians and reptiles. The name of the term is derived from the ancient Greek words "snake" and "word".
It is believed that due to the small size of the body,some species of animals are easier to escape from predators. They can also sneak into places where food may remain untouched by anyone. High growth gives about the same advantages. Thanks to their large body, animals can not be afraid of predators and feed on the leaves of tall trees, which are simply inaccessible to other animals.
At the moment, the little chameleons are insafety, because no danger threatens their natural habitat. But the researchers noticed that the island is actively deforested. Just in case, the habitat of the little chameleons has been declared a protected area. It is hoped that the measures taken will help preserve their appearance.
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Meanwhile, some types of chameleonsMadagascar is indeed on the brink of extinction. There are also species that were considered completely extinct for a long time, but turned out to be alive. One of these interesting stories recently happened with Voeltzkow's chameleons (Furcifer voeltzkowi), who have not been seen since 1913. But at the end of last year, these creatures were found again. You can read more about this discovery in this article.