Newly Discovered Itty-Bitty Chameleon Could Be the World's Smallest Reptile

Kelli Bender
·2 min read

FRANK GLAW HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Get ready to squint!

The Brookesia nana is a tiny chameleon species that was first found in the rainforests of northern Madagascar in 2012, according to The Associated Press. The little lizard was recently classified as its own species and is now a fresh contender for the title of World's Smallest Reptile.

The scientists from Madagascar and Germany that classified and named the Brookesia nana chameleon studied a male specimen for their work. This subject was just 13.5-millimeters-long — small enough to easily fit on a fingertip.

The specimen's tiny size has international researchers wondering if the Brookesia nana is the smallest reptile in the world. The current record holder is a different member of the Brookesia family that is 1.5 millimeters larger than the Brookesia nana specimen studied, reports The AP.

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It's a lack of data that is keeping the Brookesia nana from claiming the crown. Only one male and one female specimen were located during the 2012 expedition.

"You really have to get down on your knees to find them," Frank Glaw, a reptile expert at the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich that helped classify the Brookesia nana, told The AP. "They are obviously camouflaged and they move very slowly."

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The female chameleon found was larger than the male, and was confirmed to be an adult when a CT scan revealed she was harboring two eggs. Researchers could not confirm that the male specimen was an adult since they had no other male Brookesia nana chameleons to compare it too.

"I have few doubts it's an adult male," Glaw added. "If we had a pair mating it would obviously be better proof."

For the Brookesia nana to be officially considered the world's smallest reptile, scientists will have to find more lizards so the sizes can be compared. Unfortunately, finding enough of these chameleons to confirm their tiny title will likely take a few years.