The newly discovered species belongs to the Malagasy leaf chameleons group, which appear to be restricted to single, mostly karstic, localities in extreme northern Madagascar. |
The smallest of these, "Brookesia micra", reaches a maximum snout-vent length in males of 16 mm, and its total length in both sexes is less than 30 mm, ranking it among the smallest vertebrates in the world. With a distribution limited to a very small islet, this species is probably an extreme case of island dwarfism. Smaller animals need to consume fewer resources to survive and reproduce, which is advantageous when food is scarce.
This chameleon may be the smallest vertebrate with complex eyes, pushing the limit of what is possible. It may also be the world's smallest lizard, but it's not the smallest vertebrate. Holding this title is a frog from Papua New Guinea that measures about a third of an inch. The miniscule frog, (Paedophryne amanuensis) which was also discovered recently.