Atlantis Found! Scientist Discover Earth's Hidden Continent, Zealandia

Well, maybe not. It turns out there might be a whole continent hidden underneath New Zealand.

Only three segments of Zealandia peek above the ocean: New Caledonia and the North and South islands of New Zealand. The study points out that while India is big enough to be a continent, and probably used to be, it's now part of Eurasia because it collided and stuck to that continent millions of years ago. "The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list", the researchers wrote, according to

Yes, if the reports are to be believed, it is the youngest and smallest continent of the world with an area of 4.9 million square kilometers.

But only now a team led by Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science (New Zealand Crown Research Institute), have analyzed the results of previous studies and concluded that Zealandia actually exists.

Researchers could look at this new continent to explore the breakup and cohesion of continental crust since the landmass is so submerged, but, nevertheless, undivided.

The goal of the paper was to put the scientific case of Zealandia forward and to explain why its identification is important.

In 1995, Bruce Luyendyk, a geologist teaching at the University of California Santa Barbara, coined the term "Zealandia" to describe New Zealand, New Caledonia and sections underwater that broke off from an ancient supercontinent, Gondwana.

According to the authors, Zealandia and Australia come remarkably close to each other across the Cato Trough, off the coast of Queensland.

Instead, researchers from New Zealand are making the case it is part of a previously unrecognized continent that should be called "Zealandia".

As the authors wrote, though, "Zealandia illustrates that the large and the obvious in natural science can be overlooked".

Scientists say they have identified a new continent, and called it Zealandia. When Zealandia pulled away, it became very thin, but it also became a single, intact, piece of continental crust worthy of being considered a continent.

The area, about the same size as the Indian subcontinent, is believed to have broken away from Gondwana - the vast landmass that once encompassed Australia - and sank between 60m and 85m years ago.