Photo Gallery Tiny Chameleons of Madagascar

German researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of chameleon on Madagascar that is just one inch long from tip to tail. The tiny lizards are some of the smallest reptiles on Earth.
1 / 8

Brookesia micra on a matchstick. The tiny chameleon measures less than three centimeters in length. It's one of the smallest reptiles on Earth. Researchers discovered it on an island near Madagascar.

Foto: Joern Koehler
2 / 8

Mostly brown with a touch of green, the coloring of the diminutive creatures is far from spectacular. And they are unable to change their appearance like their larger cousins. Nonetheless, researchers are fascinated.

Foto: Frank Glaw
3 / 8

Brookesia desperata, another mini-chameleon that has been discovered. "How did the animals manage to survive for so long in the small fragments of forest where they live?" said Miguel Vences, a biologist with the Technical University of Braunschweig and the co-author of an article on the new species in the scientific journal PLoS ONE. The absence of direct predators may be a factor. "Island formations like this are often weak in competition," Vences says.

Foto: Frank Glaw
4 / 8

Brookesia confidens. The biologists have discovered a total of four mini-chameleons.

Foto: Jörn Köhler
5 / 8

Brookesia desparata with two freshly-laid eggs. The name refers to the desperate situation of the animals because their habitat is under threat from deforestation.

Foto: Jörn Köhler
6 / 8

Brookesia micra. "We don't know much more about the animals other than the fact that they exist," says biologist Vences.

Foto: Frank Glaw
7 / 8

Another type of chameleon that lives on Madagascar, Brookesia betschi. These little creatures have a strange mating ritual -- the male lets himself be carried around by the female before the act. With its almost 300 frog varieties and 400 different reptiles, the fauna of Madagascar is considered unique. And new species are found on the island nation with astounding regularity. At the same time, however, many of them are extremely endangered, with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimating that some 40 percent of the reptile species in Madagascar are threatened, acutely threatened or in danger of extinction.

Foto: Miguel Vences/ Frank Glaw
8 / 8

Madagaskar is also home to to the biggest chameleons. Furcifer oustaleti grows to almost 70 centimeters.

Foto: Frank Glaw
Die Wiedergabe wurde unterbrochen.