Specific distinctness and biogeography of the dwarf chameleons Brookesia minima, B. peyrierasi and B. tuberculata (Reptilia: Chamaeleonidae): evidence from hemipenial and external morphology



In a recent paper Raxworthy & Nussbaum (1995) included the Madagascan dwarf chameleons Brookesia peyrierasi and B. tuberculata in the synonymy of B. minima, regarding known hemipenial differences between B. tuberculata and B. peyrierasi as artefacts. Our studies demonstrate that the hemipenis description of B. tuberculata by Brygoo & Domergue (1975) was largely correct and referred to unusual but real structures. The enormous differences in the hemipenis morphology of B. tuberculata (hemipenes of six specimens examined) and B. peyrierasi (hemipenes of five specimens examined) strongly suggest that they are not conspecific. Furthermore, morphological differences in the arrangement of head crests and expression of supraocular spines were noted between these two taxa and B. minima. The differentiation of the three taxa is furthermore corroborated by both univariate and multivariate analyses of morphometric data. We therefore propose to consider Brookesia minima, B. peyrierasi, and B. tuberculata as distinct species. This conclusion corroborates the validity of biogeographic regions as suggested from the analysis of distribution patterns of other Brookesia species.