Read at www.theguardian.com
German zoologist Christian Bergmann observed that smaller animals tend to live in warmer climates due to the relationship between body size and heat regulation. Smaller animals lose heat faster and struggle to maintain their body temperature in cold environments. Scientists are continually discovering new tiny organisms, challenging what is considered the smallest of their kind. However, these small species often struggle to receive conservation attention compared to larger, charismatic animals. For example, the world's smallest reptile, the Brookesia nana nano-chameleon, was described as a species in 2021. It is only 20mm long and found in the rainforests of Madagascar, but it is critically endangered due to deforestation.
Whatever the reasons, these small species are fascinating, he says. With much of life on Earth still unknown, scientists are discovering new tiny organisms every year, redefining what is considered the smallest of their kind.
Despite its small size, the Brookesia nana nano-chameleon is notable for its disproportionately large male genitals, which may enable a better mechanical fit with larger females. These miniaturized males are believed to be critically endangered and found in severely degraded rainforests. The lack of conservation attention towards small species is a prevalent issue, as they often get overlooked or missed in conservation efforts.
The small species often get overlooked or missed, says Paul Rees, a nursery manager at Kew Gardens. We asked scientists to tell us about the smallest creatures of their kind.
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