Socotra

Socotra (Arabic: سُقُطْرَى‎‎ Suquṭra), also spelled Soqotra, is an island and a small archipelago of four islands in the Arabian Sea.

A local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by Thomas the Apostle in AD 52. Socotra is also mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo; Marco Polo did not pass anywhere near the island but recorded a report that “the inhabitants are baptised Christians and have an ‘archbishop’.

Socotra is one of the most isolated landforms on Earth of continental origin. The archipelago was once part of the supercontinent of Gondwana and detached during the Miocene epoch.

The long geological isolation of the Socotra archipelago and its fierce heat and drought have combined to create a unique and spectacular endemic flora. One of the most striking of Socotra’s plants is the dragon’s blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari), which is a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree.

The island group also has a rich fauna, including several endemic species of birds. Many of the bird species are endangered by predation by non-native feral cats. While there are no native amphibians, the reptiles species are over 90 percent endemic to Socotra and include skinks, legless lizards, and one species of chameleon. There are many endemic invertebrates, including several spiders and three species of freshwater crabs.

 

 

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