WATCH | Meet Brookesia nana: the world's smallest reptile has been found in Madagascar

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

Scientists have identified Earth's smallest known reptile, warning at the same time that sustained destruction of forests in northern Madagascar threatens its survival.

Tiny enough to perch comfortably on a fingertip, the ultra-compact chameleon - dubbed Brookesia nana - has the same proportions and world-weary expression as its larger cousins around the world.

"We discovered it in the mountains of northern of Madagascar," Frank Glaw, curator of herpetology at the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, told AFP in an interview.

A joint expedition in 2012 of German and Malagasy scientists did not know whether the two specimens collected - one female and one male - were adults until much later, he explained.

"We found out that the female had eggs in her body, and that the male had large genitals, so it was clear that they were adults."

Exceptionally large genitals, it turned out, accounting for nearly 20% of its body size, Glaw and colleagues reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

The male's body - about the size of a peanut - was 13.5 millimetres long, with the tail adding another nine millimetres.

By contrast, the female measured 29mm from its nose to the tip of its tail.

The pair remain the only specimens of the species ever found.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When and why would you have your or your partner's sperm count checked?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
That's an unnecessary procedure
16% - 713 votes
As soon as we decide to start a family
7% - 318 votes
Only if we're struggling to conceive
76% - 3294 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.02
-1.8%
Rand - Pound
19.61
-1.1%
Rand - Euro
16.83
-0.7%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.67
-0.8%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-1.3%
Gold
1,809.90
-2.6%
Silver
27.07
-2.2%
Palladium
2,806.97
+1.7%
Platinum
1,121.54
-2.9%
Brent Crude
73.99
+1.6%
Top 40
61,062
0.0%
All Share
67,311
0.0%
Resource 10
64,119
0.0%
Industrial 25
88,248
0.0%
Financial 15
13,596
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo