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Brookesia nana GLAW, KÖHLER, HAWLITSCHEK, RATSOAVINA, RAKOTOARISON, SCHERZ & VENCES, 2021

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Higher TaxaChamaeleonidae (Brookesiinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymBrookesia (Evoluticauda) nana GLAW, KÖHLER, HAWLITSCHEK, RATSOAVINA, RAKOTOARISON, SCHERZ & VENCES 2021 
DistributionN Madagascar (Sorata massif)

Type locality: near a campsite in the Sorata massif, 13.6851° S, 49.4417° E, ca. 1280 m a.s.l., northern Madagascar  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. ZSM 1660/2012 (field number FGZC 3788), adult male, collected on 1 December 2012 by F. Glaw, O. Hawlitschek, T. Rajoafiarison, A. Rakotoarison, F. M. Ratsoavina, and A. Razafimanantsoa.
Paratype. UADBA-R/FGZC 3752, adult female, from near the pitfall site 1, Sorata massif, 13.6817° S, 49.4411° E, 1339 m a.s.l., northern Madagascar, collected on 29 November 2012 by same collectors as the holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A diminutive chameleon species assigned to the genus Brookesia on the basis of its small body size, short tail, presence of rows of dorsolateral tubercles along vertebral column, presence of pelvic spine, and molecular phylogenetic relationships. Brookesia nana sp. nov. is distinguished by the following unique suite of morphological characters: (1) male SVL 13.5 mm, female SVL 19.2 mm; (2) male TL mm 21.6 mm, female TL 28.9 mm; (3) TaL/SVL ratio of 0.51 in male; (4) absence of lateral or dorsal spines on the tail; (5) absence of dorsal pelvic shield in sacral area; (6) presence of distinct pelvic spine; (7) pale brown dorsal colouration with slightly darker markings in life; (8) absence of apical spines on the hemipenis.
Within the genus Brookesia, B. nana sp. nov. can easily be distinguished from all species that are not members of the B. minima species group by its diminutive size (SVL 13.5–19.2 mm vs. > 34 mm). Within the B. minima species group, it can be distinguished from most species by the smaller total length (TL). Based on TL (21.6–28.9 mm), both males and females are significantly smaller than all known specimens of B. desperata (39.7–47.6 mm), B. exarmata (39.8–40.1 mm), B. karchei (51.0 mm), and B. ramanantsoai (39.0–43.5 mm), and are slightly but distinctly smaller when compared to B. tristis (30.7–36.5 mm), B. confidens (29.2–36.2 mm), and B. peyrierasi (32.2–43.1 mm). Four species of the B. minima group are in an overall comparable size range: B. micra, B. minima, B. tedi, and B. tuberculata. Yet, the male of the new species (TL 21.6 mm) is the smallest adult Brookesia so far known, compared to the previously smallest specimen, a male of B. micra with 22.2 mm TL and 15.3 mm SVL.
The very short tail of the male B. nana (TaL/SVL 0.51; 0.60 in the female) constitutes a difference to males of most species of the B. minima group: male TaL/SVL is 0.60–0.70 in B. confidens, 0.59–0.63 in B. desperata, 0.66 in B. karchei, 0.65–0.73 in B. minima, 0.57–0.92 in B. peyrierasi, 0.8 in B. ramanantsoai, 0.74–0.92 in B. tedi, 0.71–0.72 in B. tristis, and 0.68–0.88 in B. tuberculata.
Given its tiny size, the new species is most similar to B. micra (SVL 15.3–15.8 and TL 22.5–23.6 in males; SVL 18.7–19.9 mm and TL 26.9–28.8 in females), which has an even shorter relative tail length in males (TaL/SVL 0.47–0.49). However, males of B. micra differ by a more robust habitus; by a flat surface distally forming a symmetrical comb of six large, rounded papillae on the apex of the hemipenis (absent in the new species); and by life colouration, namely a dark brown body and a yellow-orange tail (versus pale brown body and tail with indistinct darker markings). Moreover, molecular data provide evidence for a distant relationship of B. nana and B. micra. 
CommentDistribution: see map in Glaw et al. 2021: 5 (Fig. 3) 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is the Latin noun nana (meaning female dwarf) in the nominative singular. 
References
  • Glaw, F., Köhler, J., Hawlitschek, O. et al. 2021. Extreme miniaturization of a new amniote vertebrate and insights into the evolution of genital size in chameleons Sci Rep 11: 2522 - get paper here
 
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