The island of Madagascar sits roughly 1000 miles off the southeastern coast of Africa, and is home to over 10,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. Many of these plant species reside within Madagascar’s “spiny forest”, an ecoregion on the southwestern corner of the island, known for its nutrient-poor soil and erratic winter rainfall. The harsh conditions lead to highly adaptive plant species that often exhibit amazing examples of Convergent Evolution.
Ninety per cent of Malagasy wildlife is endemic to the island. Madagascar split from the Gondwanan Africa-South America landmass 135 million years ago, and further separated from India 88 million years ago. This acounts for Madagascar high levels of endemism, as most species have been virtually isolated for the past 88 million years.