World’s Smallest Reptile Could Fit on Your Fingertip

Chameleons are famous for their curved tails, long tongues, and ability to change their skin color. Recently, the animals are once again in the spotlight after scientists discovered the smallest species so far. The newly discovered chameleons are now thought to be the world’s smallest reptiles.  The new species is called the nano-chameleon, or Brookesia nana. “Nana” comes from the Greek prefix “nano” that we use for very small things or units, like nanoseconds or nanotechnology. The male lizard was just 22 millimeters (mm) long, about the same size as a sunflower seed, and he could fit on a person’s fingertip. The female was slightly bigger, at 29 mm long.

Credit-Frank Glaw
Image Credits: Frank Glaw

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Where did scientists find the lizards?

Scientists found the tiny reptiles in the forests of northern Madagascar in 2012. The animals hunt the forest floors for mites and other small insects, which are their favorite foods. They have the same brown color as dried leaves. No matter how hard the scientists looked, they were only able to find two of the animals, one male and one female. This is the reason why the scientists can not generalize their findings yet. They still want to find more of these lizards to know if their average size really makes them the smallest reptiles in the world.

What else do the scientists want to know about the lizards?

Madagascar, a small island country in Africa, is home to some of the world’s smallest animals, like tiny frogs and lemurs. The scientists are still not sure why the animals on the island evolve to small sizes. They plan to continue studying the animals on the island to find the answers. The scientists also want to learn more about B. nana. They want to know how many of these small lizards live on the island. They also want to confirm if they are indeed the smallest reptiles in the world. They also want to learn if the lizards are threatened or endangered, so they can find ways to protect them.

What does the future of these lizards look like?

Unfortunately, the future of B. nana is not looking good. Their homes face threats because people keep destroying the forests. If the threats persist, the creatures might be listed as critically endangered.

After reading the passage, answer the following questions:

  1. What are chameleons famous for?
    • Their curved tails
    • Their long tongues
    • Their ability to change their skin color
    • All of the above
Answer: d
  1. Which B. nana individual was bigger?
    • The male
    • The female
    • They’re the same size.
    • There’s no way to tell.
Answer: b
  1. Which of the following statements is true?
    • The scientists want to know how many of these lizards live on the island.
    • The scientists have confirmed that B. nana is the smallest reptile in the world.
    • The scientists have listed B. nana as an endangered species.
    • None of the above
Answer: a
  1. According to the text, why is the nano-chamelon’s future not looking good?
    • They have nothing to eat.
    • They cannot have babies.
    • Their homes face threats.
    • Their population is very low.
Answer: c

Recommended Reading Age: 8th  Grade

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