Scientists have mapped Zealandia, the lost eighth continent that is mostly submerged.
You may be familiar with the continents on which we live and believe you know them all, including Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.
There is, however, an eighth continent, which, happily, does not begin with the letter ‘a’ and instead has a name from the other end of the alphabet.
People speculated about the presence of an eighth continent as early as 1642, but it took scientists 375 years to discover it.
Zealandia is the world’s smallest continent, covering around five million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), or almost half the size of Europe.
However, if you want to see Zealandia, your best choice is to visit New Zealand, which, as anybody who has watched the Lord of the Rings films will know, is a stunning country.
Unfortunately for anyone wishing to see everything Zealandia has to offer, 95 percent of it is underwater, and it’s taken scientists a long time to map it all out.
GNS Science, a New Zealand research institute, announced the discovery of Zealandia, Te Riu-a-Mui in Mori dialect, which was once thought to be part of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana before pulling away about 105 million years ago for reasons we don’t fully understand.
As Zealandia began to separate, it began to sink beneath the lapping waves of the ocean, causing most of the continent to drown and never resurface.
Some believe that because Zealandia is mostly underwater, it isn’t a legitimate continent; however, scientist Nick Mortimer of GNS Science disagrees.
He told Insider that his team has been investigating the eighth continent for 20 years and has recently completed mapping the submerged continent.
Mortimer claimed that a continent’s definition does not have to be only based on how much of it is above sea level.
Instead, the expert stated that Zealandia’s continental crust qualifies it for such an honorable designation.
His team recently released a study detailing how they mapped out the continent by collecting rock samples and using them to determine the composition of Zealandia as well as the geology of this fairly moist area.
As with other natural wonders, there is still more to learn about Zealandia, but we now know the entire expanse of this lost continent and how it developed in the first place.
The more we discover about it, the more we’ll understand how it came to be, since it’s not every day that an entire continent snaps off and begins sinking.