Discovery of a tiny chameleon may be the world’s smallest reptile

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Scientists say they discovered a sunflower seed-sized subspecies of chameleon that may well be the smallest reptile on Earth. Two of the miniature lizards, one male and one female, were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in northern Madagascar.

The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body that is only mm ( inches) long, making it the smallest of all the roughly 11,500 known species of reptiles, the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich, Germany, said. Its total length from nose to tail is just under 22 mm ( inch). The female nano-chameleon is larger, with an overall length of 29 mm.

The species' closest relative is the slightly larger Brookesia micra, whose discovery was announced in 2012.

Scientists assume that the lizard's habitat is small, as is the case for similar subspecies. "The nano-chameleon's habitat has unfortunately been subject to deforestation, but the area was placed under protection recently, so the species will survive," Oliver Hawlitschek, a scientist at the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, said in a statement.

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