About 60 million years ago, the continent of Zealand broke away from the supercontinent Gondwana, only to be discovered again in 2017. Now, a group of scientists has recovered samples from this lost land.
The idea of the continent of New Zealand emerged in 2017 when a team of geologists suggested that the submerged landmass, or continental crust, that currently includes New Zealand, New Caledonia and other islands, could best be described as its own continent.
Continent of New Zealand
About 94% of Zealandia is completely submerged in ocean, which means we know very little about it. It is known that its crust is thinner than the crust of most continents, but thicker than the oceanic crust.
Moreover, it is also known that the continent formed when Gondwana expanded and doubled in size, but the processes that led to this are still unknown. To resolve this doubt, a study was recently published in the journal Tectonics They set out to collect samples from Zealandia, to map and model the continent, as well as investigate magnetic anomalies.
The research revealed that the thinning of the crust, which caused much of the continent to be submerged, occurred about 80 to 100 million years ago, most likely because it expanded in different directions.
In addition to, Another study Pollen spores from plants and shells have also been found on the seafloor which provide evidence that Zealandia once hosted a great diversity of life forms, as did South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia and other areas that were part of Gondwana.
The major geographic changes in northern Zealandia, which is roughly the same size as India, have implications for understanding questions such as how plants and animals spread and evolved in the South Pacific. Now the discovery of ancient lands and shallow seas provides an explanation. There were paths for animals and plants to move.
Robert Sutherland, author of the study that first proposed defining Zealandia as a continent, said in a statement at the time
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