Berlin - The world's tiniest chameleon, small enough to fit on a matchstick, has been discovered on an offshore Madagascan island, biologists announced Wednesday.

The lizard, which was given the name Brookesia micra, is monochrome, unlike its full-size cousins which can change their colour.

“It's brown, the perfect camouflage,” said Joern Koehler of Germany's Darmstadt State Museum, one of the chameleon discoverers who published the find in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The creature, with a 16-millimetre body, measures 29 millimetres with its tail fully extended. It lives only in leaf litter on the forest floor of the island of Nosy Hara.

Koehler said he feared the species could be wiped out by illegal deforestation. - Sapa-dpa