Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Miniature Miracle

Meet one little chameleon, a member of the newly discovered Brookesia micra species:


This teensy-tiny guy (or gal, not sure which) is a juvenile member of a species discovered in 2007. They live on the ground among limestone pebbles and dry deciduous forest leaf litter near a small stream on Nosy Hara in the Antsiranana Province of northern Madagascar. At night, they climb 2 to 4 inches up the stems of very small plants to hide in their leaves.

He's got a baby brother, even smaller:

Baby B. Micra

Adult B. micras, which are only 1/5th of an inch long, have orange-colored tails:
Daddy B. micra, actual size = 1/5th of an inch
These little creatures are among the smallest amniotes in the world, an amniote being a reptile, bird, or mammal. It is hard to believe that highly complex animal like this, complete with a set of organs similar to those of much bigger animals, is packed into such a tiny package.

Life is a miracle all around though, isn't it?

Read more about these new discoveries in a recently published paper, Rivaling the World's Smallest Reptiles: "Discovery of Miniaturized and Microendemic New Species of Leaf Chameleons (Brookesia) from Northern Madagascar," by Frank Glaw, Jorn Kohler, Ted M. Townsend, and Miguel Vences.
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5 comments:

  1. That's really cool!

    Back in my college days, a friend worked at an exotic pet store. He was handling a chameleon when the phone rang and here said, "here! hold him!" The chameleon was a little bigger than my thumb and had a surprisingly strong grip on my thumb. He swiveled one of his eyes around at me and we made eye contact, and the impression was that he was a lot smarter and more aware than other reptiles I've handled. Neat little critters.

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  2. @innominatus - I know what you mean. A friend of mine adopted a rescued iguana and lovingly nursed it back to health, devoting much of her garden to growing special plants for his diet. That critter became completely devoted to my friend, followed her from room to room, and slept at her feet like puppy. I never had the same opinion of lizards after that.

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  3. awwwww! He's adorable! He makes the baby geckos we shoo out of the house look big. There are undiscovered miracles everywhere. :-)

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  4. We have a herd of 10,000 of these we keep in a shoebox.

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  5. @Tina - I've never seen a baby gecko. How can these little guys evade predators? Wow.

    @Odie - Do they eat dust mites? I could send you a bunch . . .

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