A new continent of Zealandia? Wrong. Not new at all to scientists.

Zealandia is mostly underwater. (Wikipedia)

Heard the news about Zealandia, the lost continent? Then you probably heard it wrong.

It’s not new, we’ve had the bathymetric data for a while. The submerged landmass was known as a microcontinent that included the surrounding land masses. The name “Zealandia” was first proposed in 1995 but it was also called “Tasmantis” (the “Tasmantis complex” [1919]). This new report just defines the crustal mass differently. So, to say it’s “a new continent” is oversimplying to the point that it is wrong. Besides, no one is calling it the eight continent yet. Those things take a while.

Be careful reading any source that references “Atlantis” for any mention of a “newly discovered continent” because that is just dumb, there is no comparison. For one, Zealandia is a real thing, no matter how we define it, and we can demonstrate that. There is zero physical evidence for Atlantis which is fiction. Another “lost continent” reference surfaced a few months ago as scientists also proposed continental crust between India and Madagascar and called it Mauritia. USA Today made sure to use “Atlantis” as a keyword in that story’s headline, too.

There is no need to rehash the story any more here. Check out the original paper on the Geological Society of America site:

A 4.9 Mkm2 region of the southwest Pacific Ocean is made up of continental crust. The region has elevated bathymetry relative to surrounding oceanic crust, diverse and silica-rich rocks, and relatively thick and low-velocity crustal structure. Its isolation from Australia and large area support its definition as a continent—Zealandia. Zealandia was formerly part of Gondwana. Today it is 94% submerged, mainly as a result of widespread Late Cretaceous crustal thinning preceding supercontinent breakup and consequent isostatic balance. The identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices, more correctly represents the geology of this part of Earth. Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup.

Also, these other news sources:

Scientists claim existence of drowned Pacific Ocean continent | Reuters

Zealandia: Is there an eighth continent under New Zealand? – BBC News

Fox News Science just repeats the article from that bastion of sewage news The Sun. 

All the above sources fail to mention the context in which this new discussion of Zealandia is being scientifically discussed. I suspect they didn’t do any more digging beyond what the scientists said or they don’t think their readers need to know the details. But the details are kind of important! To leave them out misrepresents the scientific process, which is cumulative and changes with new and better information.

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