In The Media

Socotra island in Yemen inhabits plants up to 20 MILLION years old and resembles something from a sci-fi film

The remote location in the Indian Ocean is home to around 800 rare species of plant life, many of which don’t appear anywhere else in the world.

The Sun — It looks like something out of a sci-fi film, but this barren island is actually 250km off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Indian Ocean.

Socotra, dubbed the ‘most alien-looking place on earth’, has been separated from the mainland for between six and seven million years.

The other-worldly island is part of Yemen and home to around 800 species of rare fauna and flora – about a third of which grow nowhere else in the world.

This is mainly down to its unique tropical desert and semi-desert climate, characterised by an average temperature of 25°C and barely any rain.

Sandy beaches, limestone caves and imposing mountains dominate the landscape, as well as its distinctly unusual plants.

According to Bill’s Corner, the island’s trees and plants, some of which are as old as 20 million years, have evolved to suit its harsh climate.

Just Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands and New Caledonia host more endemic species, according to botanical field surveys led by the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants – part of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

The department discovered 307 out of the 825 plant species could be found nowhere else on the planet other than Socotra.

Around 44,000 people live on the island, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and only got its first roads five years ago.