Situated some 250 miles off the coast of southeast Africa, Madagascar — the fourth largest island on Earth — is a world of its own. Sometimes referred to as the eighth continent, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent 88 million years ago and the African mainland some 47 million years before that, so it is perhaps not surprising that about 90 percent of its fauna and flora is found nowhere else on earth. Much of the island’s megafauna (including nearly 10-foot-tall elephant birds and lemurs the size of gorillas) has been driven to extinction. But Madagascar still boasts a panoply of unique plants and animals, from numerous species of baobab trees and endemic orchids to chameleons, giraffe-necked weevils and the bizarre-looking aye-aye.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES