Cute Meter = 9.97

chameleon on matchhead

A new and itty bitty chameleon species has been discovered in Madagascar, called Brookesia micra. The above photo is of a juvenile; adults reach the whopping length of 29 millimeters (1.14 inches).

Three additional tiny lizard species have also been found and named, all of them from the northern part of the main island. As so often happens, their discovery comes concurrent with the realization of how endangered these creatures are, as their already very limited habitat is further degraded by human activities (in one case, logging of a supposedly protected forest). To reflect the threat these species face, their discoverers named two of them B. desperata and B. tristis (from the French triste, meaning sad).

Since Madagascar’s main economic base is ecotourism, you’d think its government and business interests would be highly motivated to protect their environment…but that would be expecting humans to act in their own long-term interest, which is always a losing bet. Still, I’m going to hope that as more wonders such as these species are found and publicized, more tourists will go to Madagascar and more value will be assigned to its natural treasures.

The BBC has another terribly cute photo of a juvenile B. micra, and Spiegel has a more in-depth article.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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9 Responses to Cute Meter = 9.97

  1. Lilaine says:

    Oh, cutie jolie! 😀

    Tristis(like desperata) is latin, I think. It gives triste, in French as in Portuguese(and others…)
    I’m not really sure an inflow of ‘ecotourists’ is going to do any good with the natural treasures still left in the Island(s)…and they’ll have to be really careful not to crush those cuties under their feet. 😮
    And I wonder what the wood from the logging is used for. (Hope it’s not to build fancy log cabins, huts, etc. for the tourists. Might be to make paper to feed our fancy printers?)
    C’est triste, en effet. 😦
    Logging off.

    • oregon expat says:

      Well, the base is Latin, but since one of the main languages of Madagascar is French, perhaps that’s what the researchers were working from when they decided on the name. Either that, or the BBC reporter made an error of assumption.

      Good point about the other costs of ecotourism. There’s always a careful balance to be maintained.

      • Lilaine says:

        Seems to me that the BBC reporter has not thoroughly read this(they did give the link, though…):
        I can understand why… 😮 😉
        In this most … interesting research article, in the brookesia tristis description paragraph, one can read :

        Etymology.— The species epithet is an adjective derived from the Latin “tristis” meaning “doleful”, “sad”, “sorrowful”, and refers to the fact that the entire known range of this species (Montagne des Français) suffers from severe deforestation and habitat destruction [37] despite recently being declared as a nature reserve.

        The assumption of the name tristis being from the French triste might just come from the name of this cutie’s only known habitat : la Montagne des Français. 😉
        And what is triste is the probably ineluctable and total destruction of this habitat, being near an expanding city… 😦

    • Ana_ñ says:

      Yes, the Latin etymology is clear; “triste” is also the usual word for “sad” in Spanish and Italian.

      How appropriate headline! 🙂

      • Ana_ñ says:

        I think I have resolved the etymology mistery: “Triste” became an English word through French. At least, that is what say The American Heritage Dictionary and The Collins English Dictionary

        Sad; wistful
        [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin tristis.]

        The researchers or the BBC reporter simply looked it up in an English dictionary.

  2. Jbrandao says:

    That is adorable.
    They could always try to breed these chamelons, and sell them as pets. Being that cute, would make it a sucess I’m sure, and it would serve to bring the species out of the endangered species list, and still help Madagascar by making some money. (I know I’m being insensitive about it, but sometimes it feels like something like this would actually work).

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