May be we have eight continents.
Scientists discovered an entire, submerged and unrecognised continent in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The newly found continent is beneath New Zealand, so it can’t be seen. The new continent is named Zealandia.
According to a report published in the Geological Society of America’s journal, Zealandia measures five million sq km which is about two-thirds of Australia.
Researchers said Zealandia is A distinct geological entity and it fulfils all the criteria to be a continent. It has its own distinctive geology and it is elevated above the area that surrounds it. It has a crust thicker than the regular ocean floor, just like the seven continents we know.
The report said the new continent is 94% under water and it is made up of three major landmasses: New Zealand’s north and south islands and New Caledonia to the north.
The researchers from New Zealand’s official geological body GNS Science wrote, “The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list.”
It added, “That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it (useful)…in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”
According to the Guardian newspaper, researchers said Zealandia may have broken off from the supercontinent Gondwana between 60 and 85 million years ago. The lead author of the study Nick Mortimer said it will be hard to get Zealandia classified as a continent because it is under water.
He told TVNZ, “If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everybody that we have mountain chains and a big, high-standing continent. What we hope is that Zealandia will appear on world maps, in schools, everywhere …I think the revelation of a new continent is pretty exciting.” He said further research of Zealandia should help the biogeographers to better understand how New Zealand’s endemic plants and animals arose and also the knowledge how continental crust can be reshaped.
So in the future, we might be learning about eight continents, not seven.