Geologists have made a groundbreaking discovery by locating a long-lost continent that had remained hidden for 375 years.
This continent, known as Zealandia or Te Riu-a-Māui in the Maori language, was once part of an ancient supercontinent that included what is now West Antarctica and eastern Australia.
Covering an expansive area of approximately 1.89 million square miles (4.9 million square kilometers), Zealandia is not entirely visible as it lies submerged beneath the ocean in various regions.
The continent's existence was initially brought to light in 1642 when Dutch merchant and sailor Abel Tasman embarked on a voyage in search of the "Great Southern Continent."
During his expedition, he encountered the Maori tribe, who shared intriguing information about the area.
They informed Tasman about a vast landmass located to the east of their location, thus providing the earliest recorded mention of the mysterious eighth continent.
The concept of a southern continent had been speculated upon since Roman times and was partially explored in the 1600s.
However, this marked the first instance in which anyone had documented information about Zealandia.
Geologist Andy Tulloch from the New Zealand Crown Research Institute GNS Science noted that the discovery exemplified how something apparent could take a considerable amount of time to surface.
Remarkably, Zealandia lies beneath a staggering 6,560 feet (2 kilometers) of water, which contributed to its concealed existence.
Nick Mortimer, another geologist and leader of the research, humorously described the discovery as "pretty cool" and offered an explanation for the lengthy delay in recognizing Zealandia as a distinct continent.
The identification of this submerged landmass required a substantial amount of time and collaboration among geologists to reach a consensus regarding its classification as a new continent.
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