The world’s tiniest reptile lives on a secret Caribbean island. It’s a dwarf lizard called the Jaragua gecko. It’s only about the size of a penny!
We’ll never finish unearthing all the hidden treasures of the Caribbean islands. Finding a buried treasure chest full of gold is probably just a myth. However, scientists have unearthed plenty of natural treasures in the Caribbean.
Where was the world’s tiniest reptile discovered?
Since this creature is only about three-quarters of an inch long, biologists had overlooked it for centuries. However, two scientists caught a glimpse of it on Beata island, which lies off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Once populated by Taino tribes, the tiny island is home to very few people today. A 2010 census counted just 10 inhabitants.
Nevertheless, the lack of people on Beata island has made it a safe haven for creatures like the Jaragua gecko. One of the men who discovered it, Dr. Blair Hedges, said, “Our discovery illustrates that we still don’t know everything about the Earth’s species.”
Hedges was certainly right. Even though there are roughly 23,000 known species of reptiles in the world, an average of one new species has been discovered in the Dominican Republic each year.
Unfortunately, deforestation is threatening to destroy reptile habitats in the Caribbean. In addition, construction and tourism have had a negative impact on Caribbean wildlife. This may be the reason why many animal species have retreated to hard-to-find areas. In fact, Dr. Blair Hedges and his colleague, Dr. Richard Thomas found the Jaragua gecko hiding in a cave in a deforested region of the island.
Do what you can to help save Caribbean wildlife! Support ecotourism in the Caribbean.
Many of the world’s smallest creatures live in the Caribbean
The world’s smallest snake
The world’s smallest snake also lives in the Caribbean. The Lesser Antillean thread makes its home in the Lesser Antillean islands, as its name suggests. It is so thin that it could fit inside a pencil if the lead were removed.
The world’s smallest bird
In addition, the world’s smallest bird lives on the Caribbean island of Cuba. It is the bee hummingbird, which measures only 5 centimeters. It weighs less than an ounce. Furthermore, this tiny bird has striking bright plumage that makes it stand out, despite its size. It is usually blue or greenish-blue. The bee hummingbird is found only in Cuba.
The world’s tiniest frog
However, the Caribbean’s tiny animal collection doesn’t stop there. The tiniest frog in the northern hemisphere calls the Caribbean home as well. It is the Monte Iberia Eleuth. It is only 1 cm long. Like the bee hummingbird, it is endemic to Cuba. It was not discovered until 1993. In addition, it does not live anywhere other than Cuba. Currently, it is the third-smallest known species of frog in the world.
A great way to discover Caribbean wildlife is by snorkeling or scuba diving! Find out which are the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean here!