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.