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This relative of the dinosaurs can fit on your fingertip2 min read

March 22, 2021 2 min read


This relative of the dinosaurs can fit on your fingertip2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’ve all been awestruck by the gigantic reptiles we’ve seen. Whether they’re reality-defying prehistoric creatures like Owliver’s beloved dinosaurs or fiction mimicking lizards like the komodo dragon, these ginormous cold-blooded creatures have been sending chills down our spines for ages. But reptiles have another propensity that has been blowing the minds of scientists and researchers alike- their ability to be tiny. Now, just when they thought these creatures couldn’t go any smaller, scientists have found the smallest reptile so far.

What is it?

It’s a minuscule chameleon! The tiny chameleon is one of few nano-chameleons and has been given the name, Brookesia nana, or B. nana. The species was found in the vast and thick rainforest of Madagascar, refuting an earlier belief that smaller creatures only roamed on smaller islands. 

These creatures are so small that they are about the size of sunflower seeds and can sit on the tip of your finger. Just imagine an entire complex body, organs and all, compressed to that tiny size! This creature is also one of the smallest vertebrates, or living creature with a backbone found yet. They rely on even tinier creatures like mites for food, and their long projectile tongues and superb aim ensure that they go to bed with a full belly.

These little lizards spend their days roaming the floors of the forest, shooting their tongues at prey and sleep on the tips of blades of grass. The females seem to be larger than the male lizards as the male B.nana that was found was about 13.5 mm from snout to cloaca (the multipurpose excretion and reproduction hole), the female B.nana was about 19.2 mm long. 

Brookesia nana
The male B.Nana. Image: Smithsonian Magazine

So far scientists have only found two B. Nana individuals, one male and another female. Taking into account their size, it could be a while before more are found. It’s literally like looking for a needle in a haystack.

With Excerpts From: National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine

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