Photos: Madagascar's Treasure Trove of Species

Madagascar Frogs

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(Image credit: Axel Strauss/WWF Madagascar.)

Since 1999, scientists have discovered 615 new species of animals and plants on the island of Madagascar. Here we take a look at some of the amazing creatures revealed on the historically isolated island.

This new species of frog, Boophis lilianae, was formally identified in 2008.

Madagascar Gecko Tree

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(Image credit: Ben Smith/WWF Madagascar.)

Can you see the lizard? This cork bark leaf-tailed gecko blends in with its surroundings thanks to some excellent, built-in camouflage. The species, Uroplatus pietschmanni, though discovered only recently, is endangered.

The species has made its way into the pet trade in limited numbers, because of its unique camouflage. On average, nearly 100 have been exported annually for trade purposes since 2004, with 262 being exported in the peak year of 2005.

Madagascar Gecko Treebark

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(Image credit: Ben Smith/WWF Madagascar.)

It's easy to see why this species eluded scientists until now. The amazing cork bark leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus pietschmanni) was discovered in 2003 by scientists in the east coast rainforest of Madagascar, in Toamasina province. The 5 inch (13 centimeter)-long species likes to climb thick branches, corkbark, and sturdy broadleafed plants, and has perfect camouflage. The gecko species is much less common than most other varieties and little is known about its range and distribution in its natural habitat.

Mouse Lemur Branch

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(Image credit: Harald Schuetz/ WWF Madagascar.)

Among the list of new species are mouse lemurs, the world's tiniest primates. Berthe's mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae), discovered in 2000, is the smallest of the mouse lemurs and the smallest in the world with an average body length of 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) and weight of around 1 ounce (30 grams). It is found in the Kirindy Mitea National Park in Western Madagascar.

Madagascar Chameleon Full

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(Image credit: Frank Glaw/WWF Madagascar.)

Officially described in 2009, both males and females of the Furcifer timoni species are very striking, appearing to sport vibrant 'glam rock' makeup. According to scientists, the discovery of this distinctive new species was very surprising since the area they call home has been repeatedly and intensively surveyed for reptiles over many years.

Madagascar Chameleon

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(Image credit: Jöm Köhler/WWF Madagascar.)

Ready for her close-up: a female Furcifer timoni chameleon. In total, 11 new chameleon species have been described in Madagascar since 1999.