Speaking of newly found herps, an article by Frank Glow et al. in the latest PLoS One describes what may be the world’s smallest reptiles—indeed, among the world’s smallest amniotes. They’re four species of leaf chameleons in the genus Brookesia from northern Madagascar. Here they are, and note that the scale bar is 5 mm—about 0.2 inch! These are adults, and B. micra adults are about 15-27 mm long: about 0.6-1 inch long! That’s a small lizard!
Here’s a baby on a matchstick from the BBC website, which gives more information but doesn’t identify the species. Cute, eh?
And, as is often the case in animals, the diagnostic traits involve the shape of male genitalia, perhaps because those genitals evolve rapidly by sexual selection:
“In general, the hemipenes found in the B. minima group are remarkably dissimilar among species.”
Here’s a figure of the hemipenes (the bifurcated penis of many reptiles):
In other news, the Torygraph has reported that goats can develop different accents when moved to new social groups, so that their bleats come to resemble that of their companions, a form of cultural “inheritance”. There also appears to be a genetic component to among-family differences in bleats. I haven’t read the paper, which was published in Animal Behaviour.
Finally, Larry, the official Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office at 10 Downing Street (a rescue cat), has celebrated his first year in residence with a party. Details and photos are at the Prime Minister’s official website.
h/t: David and a couple of others whose emails I’ve lost.