The smallest reptile has recently been discovered in Madagascar after being presumed to be extinct. It is a species of tiny chameleon known as the Chapman’s pygmy chameleon and was first described in 1992 by herpetologist and author Colin Tilbury. Being one of the rarest chameleons it grows up to 5.5 centimeters and is native to the low-elevation rainforest of the Malawi Hills in southern Malawi.
This is all according to a study published Monday in Orx, THe International Journal of Conservation. The study’s lead author Krystal Tolley described them as “Mostly brown but they can change to quite beautiful blues and greens with little dots all over them and that’s probably a way of communicating with each other. She added that “Other chameleon species can be hysterical, hissing and biting, but pygmy chameleons are gentle and just beautiful.
When this species was first described in 1992, researchers noticed deforestation is causing them to go endangered. This is because Pygmy chameleons are intolerant of changed or transformed areas. To protect the species researchers released 37 pygmy chameleons into a patch of forest in Malawi in 1998.
From 2001-2012 Tilbury assessed that the chameleons were still there. But by 2014 they could not locate one chameleon and though they may have gone extinct. The authors in the study say from 1984 to 2019, around 80 per cent of the Malawi Hills forest has been destroyed.
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