From nose to tail, the newly discovered Brookesia Micra grows to just over an inch.
So how did anyone even find them? While research team leader Frank Glaw claims that his group had experience finding tiny lizards, he also admitted “it was also luck.”
The team of researchers waited till nightfall to search for the micro lizards, as the animals tend to be inanimate come sundown. Using headlamps and flashlights, the team searched for the chameleons, which generally climb branches to sleep on.
Only for the B. Micra species, that means climbing about 4 inches off the ground; this made them difficult to find. But once found, the lizards were easily caught, as Chameleons are entirely immobile during sleep. “It’s like picking up a strawberry” Glaw described it.
Research has shown that these newly discovered reptiles may represent the limit of miniaturization possible for a vertebrate with complex eyes. But it’s hard to tell, seeing that every time a species is declared the smallest, a tinier is discovered. But beyond the occasional pygmy species, there’s plenty to discover on the island of Madagascar.
A Glance Inside Madagascar
Get out of the central highland and urban areas and visit the traditional Malagasy villages. Here things are a little different, houses are made from plant materials and a humped cattle known as the zebu, roam freely throughout the streets. Warning- don’t touch the zebu (or at least don’t look like you’re taking them) because this animal is considered sacred in Madagascar and although often wandering, they usually do have owners.
What to Eat
Try the Voanjobory sy henakisoa- a rice dish made with bambara groundnut cooked with pork. And wash it down with some zebu milk…or if you’re feeling brave, the betsabetsa, a traditional alcohol of the island.
What to See
There are plenty of bizarre and unique things to oogle on this island, so we’ll just start you off with a few.
Tsingy de Bemaraha (Stone Labyrinth)
Enter a forest consumed by jutting limestone pinnacles, known as the “Tsingy”. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these 152,000 hectares are home to 50 bird and 7 lemur species, and B. Micra’s cousing, the rare stump-tailed chameleon. Enjoy the beauty of this rocky plateau, but be careful the pinnacles are razor-sharp!
Avenue of the Baobabs
Located 45 minutes north of Morondava on Madagascar’s west coast, is one of the most extraordinary landscapes of the island. A candidate as one of the 7 wonders of Africa, more than a dozen giant baobab trees as old as 800 years, and of heights of more than 30 meters surround the land. If you were looking for the perfect place for a sunset photo, here it is.
What to Do
Beyond the splendors of this land’s natural wonders, definitely try to catch a match of Maraingy, a type of hand to hand combat and traditional past time of the coastal regions. When the fights over, feel free to challenge someone to a game of Fanorona, a popular board game played throughout the island.
Between April and November, the Emerald Sea in Diego has a constant flow of 30 knot winds, making it one of the best spots for kite and wind surfing in the southern hemisphere.
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