New Zealand usually gets bucketed with Australia in most things – and probably including most travelers’ plans. After all, the island nation is just a hop over from Sydney. Well, New Zealand may now have its own claim to fame – its own continent!
According to a research paper published by Geological Society of America titled Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent, researchers state that the countries we know as New Zealand and New Caledonia (plus a few other islands) actually sit on top of a 4.9 million square kilometer landmass (or just under 2 million square miles) that sits mostly (94%) submerged under water, dubbed “Zealandia”.
In order to be considered a continent, the following qualifications need to be met (simplified because we’re not scientists over here at CYA) – high elevation, diverse geology (read: rocks), thick crust, well-defined large limits.
It sounds like Zealandia hits all the requirements (though would be the smallest continent on Earth), though it’s up in the air on when it’s continent status will become official.
The name though, isn’t new – the term Zealandia was coined in 1995 by geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk. It’s been around for over 20 years!
While this revelation (if you can call it that) likely won’t impact governments (or passports!) in any way, it sure gives us bucketlist-ers something to chase after – a brand new continent! (I’m still working on Antarctica.)
So is it official? Hard to tell, since there’s no governing body around to confirm the validity of the new continent. I guess we’ll learn it’s Facebook-official when Rand McNally issues a new map – we’ll see how many continents show up 😉
In the meantime, maybe we shouldn’t get too attached – science changes all the time. After all, I’m still getting over the fact that Pluto isn’t a planet (my favorite one, by the way), nor am I entirely sure on where the science world stands on whether the Brontosaurus was its own type of dinosaur (also my favorite).
Even so – anyone up for a trip to New Zealand? Ever been? Drop us a note in the comments!
Featured image credit: Pixabay