Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rivaling the World's smallest Reptiles: New tiny Chameleons discovered in Madagascar

15.02.2012
German and American scientists under the lead of Frank Glaw (Zoologische Staatssammlung München) report about newly discovered dwarf chameleons from Madagascar (published in PLoS One).
The smallest of the four new species, Brookesia micra, reaches 24 mm in total length including tail and thus ranges among the smalles known reptile species in the world. Juveniles can comfortably sit on the head of a match. All four new species inhabit extremely small ranges and are therefore highly threatened as deforestation on the island continues.

Madagascar is famous for its high levels of species diversity and endemism. Almost 300 species of frogs and approximately 400 species of reptiles live in the rainforests, mountains and arid areas of the island, and new species are regularly discovered. More than 40% of the 193 named chameleon species occur solely on this large island situated off the East African coast. There are also a remarkable number of miniaturized species, including dwarf frogs, dwarf lemurs and dwarf chameleons.
Biologists from Germany and America have discovered four additional miniaturized chameleons in the north of Madagascar (published in PLoS ONE), one of them distinctly smaller than all other known chameleons. The newly described Brookesia micra reaches a maximum snout-vent length in males of 16 mm, and its total length in both sexes is less than 29 mm, ranking it among the smallest reptiles in the world.

"It is not accidental that the smallest species of a given taxonomic group often occur on islands,” says Frank Glaw of the Zoologische Staatssammung in Munich, "it is a typical and well known phenomenon “. Exactly why Brookesia micra is so extremely small is still insufficiently studied, but could be due to a "double island effect," as this species is only known from a small (115 ha) karstic islet just a few kilometers separated from the mainland of Madagascar. The extreme miniaturization of Brookesia micra might also be accompanied by numerous adaptations of the bodyplan - a promising field for future research.

Small enough to stand on the head of a match. A juvenile of Brookesia micra, one of the smallest reptiles in the world. Photo by Jörn Köhler


Like an alien: A portrait of an adult specimen of one of the newly discovered mini chamaleons, Brookesia desperata. Photo by Frank Glaw

All of the newly discovered chameleons appear to be restricted to very small distribution ranges, sometimes limited to a few square kilometers. "For this reason they might be especially sensitive to habitat destruction" says Jörn Köhler of the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. "One of the new species, Brookesia desperata, is known only from a small rainforest remnant, and although this area is officially protected, it has suffered severe habitat degradation". The future survival of Brookesia tristis is uncertain as well. In the time since its habitat was designated a nature reserve, illegal logging has increased significantly - probably at least partially due to the current political crisis in Madagascar. The species names of these two chameleons (desperata = desperate, tristis = sad) were consciously chosen to call attention to their uncertain futures.

"The tiny new chameleons show remarkable genetic divergences between species, although superficially they closely resemble each other. This indicates that they separated from each other millions of years ago - even earlier than many other chameleon species,” says Miguel Vences from the Technical University of Braunschweig. "The genus Brookesia is the most basal group within chameleons", adds Ted Townsend of San Diego State University, who carried out the genetic studies. "This suggests that chameleons might have evolved in Madagascar from small and inconspicuous ancestors, quite unlike the larger and more colourful chameleons most familiar to us today.”

Original article:
F. Glaw, J. Köhler, T. Townsend, M. Vences: Rivaling the World's Smallest Reptiles: Discovery of Miniaturized and Microendemic New Species of Leaf Chameleons (Brookesia) from Northern Madagascar. PLoS ONE (DOI 0031314)

For further information please contact
Dr. Jörn Köhler
Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Friedensplatz 1, 64283 Darmstadt
Tel.: +49 (6151) 16-5781, FAX : +49 (6151) 16-5798
E-Mail: joern.koehler@hlmd.de

Yvonne Mielatz
Leiterin Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Friedensplatz 1, 64283 Darmstadt
Tel.: +49 (6151) 16-5793, FAX : +49 (6151) 16-5797
E-Mail: yvonne.mielatz@hlmd.de

Yvonne Mielatz | idw
Further information:
http://www.hlmd.de

Further reports about: Brookesia Brookesia micra Chameleons chameleon species new species reptiles

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>