Scientists in Madagascar have discovered a chameleon that can fit on your fingertip

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. may well / meɪ wɛl / (idiom) – used to say that something’s likely to happen or is most likely true

    The singer’s new album is a huge hit, so she may well win the Best Album award this year.

  2. reptile / ˈrɛp taɪ / (n.) – an animal that lays eggs and has a body with scales or other hard covering

    Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles. They can grow up to 23 feet.

  3. expedition / ˌɛk spɪˈdɪʃ ən / (n.) – a journey for a particular purpose, especially to do research or explore a distant place

    A team of researchers went on an expedition to study the plants and animals found on the island.

  4. nano-(something) / ˈnæn oʊ / (n.) – something that’s extremely small

    The scientists are using nanobots, or very small robots, to monitor the sugar level in a person’s blood.

  5. roughly / ˈrʌf lɪ / (adv.) – not exactly, but around a certain number, size, etc.

    Roughly 600,000 people watched the concert.


Read the text below.

Scientists say they have discovered a chameleon that may well be the smallest reptile on Earth. The miniature lizard is the size of a sunflower seed.

A male and a female were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in northern Madagascar.

The male Brookesia nana, or “nano-chameleon,” is 22 millimeters long from nose to tail, the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich said. Its body length minus the tail is just 13.5 mm. That makes it the smallest of all the roughly 11,500 known species of reptiles. The female nano-chameleon is much bigger, at 29 mm in total length.

The species’ closest relative is the Brookesia micra. The micrachameleon is slightly larger, and its discovery was announced in 2012.

The discovery of the nano-chameleon was reported in the Jan. 28 issue of Scientific Reports. (Reuters)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Scientists said nano-chameleons might be facing the danger of extinction because their habitat has been destroyed. Do you think it’ll be difficult to protect these animals because of their size? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Madagascar is known for having many unique animal species. However, the forests they live in on the island have decreased greatly since humans first started living there. Do you think there should be laws to keep people from living on islands like Madagascar? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What would you do if you found a new animal like the nano-chameleon (ex. take one home, take a video)? Why? Discuss.
  • The nano-chameleon was just recently discovered, and its closest relative’s discovery was only announced in 2012. Do you think there are still many more animals that haven’t been discovered yet on Earth? Why or why not? Discuss.