New chameleon species may be world’s smallest reptile

About the size of a sunflower seed, the newly described creature from Madagascar may already be critically endangered.

Scientists have discovered a tiny new species of chameleon in a patch of rainforest in northern Madagascar. This so-called nano-chameleon is about the size of a sunflower seed, fits on the tip of a finger, and may be the smallest reptile on Earth.

Officially known as Brookesia nana, or B. nana for short, the new species is so tiny it’s thought to survive on a diet of mites and springtails, which it hunts down in leaf litter.

“At the first glance, we realized that it was an important discovery,” says Andolalao Rakotoarison, a Malagasy herpetologist and coauthor of the new study published in Nature.

Finding such a small reptile raises interesting questions about the lower limits of body size in vertebrates.

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