From the proud Cretan wild goat, the wild cat, and endemic Cretan shrew, to the stenoendemic arthropods and bats of Crete, the fauna of Crete holds many secrets about the evolution of species.
Crete is isolated from the rest of mainland Europe, Asia and Africa, which is reflected strongly in the genetic diversity of the fauna of the island. From the proud Cretan wild goat, the wild cat, and endemic Cretan shrew, to the stenoendemic arthropods and bats of Crete, the fauna of Crete holds many secrets about the evolution of species. In Crete there are no animals harmful to humans, a fact that our ancestors attributed to Hercules or the blessings of the Apostle Paul, who spent two years on the island. The bird fauna is one of the richest in Europe with more than 412 species of birds having been observed, while Crete hosts the last couples of bearded vulture in the Balkans.
Similarly, the Cretan flora hosts one of the largest numbers of plant species in the world, in proportion to the size of the island. Indicative of the diversity of the island is that the flora of Great Britain, which is 40 times greater in extent from Crete, contains almost the same number of plant species. In Crete, so far, about 1800 species have been registered, with approximately 10% of them being endemic. In some isolated areas of the island, mainly in isolated gorges like Samaria or islets, there are many stenoendemic species and subspecies (i.e. have been detected only in this region). In addition, more than 200 species of plants of Crete are edible or used as herbs.