At some point in our elementary school careers we’ve sung the continents’ names to memorize all seven of them. But now another question has arisen: how would Zealandia and Mauritia fit in?
Researchers found new information to confirm that New Zealand and some small islands sit on Zealandia. It contains a wide continental crust that is 94% underwater. Researchers believed it contained oceanic, not continental crust, prior to the new data. Whether the new discovery of Zealandia, and for that matter Mauritia, will change the way schools teach continents is unclear because everything is so new.
Mauritia is another new discovery. It lies east of Madagascar. The question of its continent status arose when zircon crystals embedded in the rock were found to be between 660 and 1,970 years old.
Why does this matter?
It seems like science’s endless endeavor of categorizing and labeling is pointless, but the purpose is actually quite meaningful. As our environment is constantly changing from human intervention and natural causes, it’s important to understand the planet’s history in order to create solutions for the future. Zealandia and Mauritia are a part of this history, and will teach us more about continental crusts and Pangea’s separation.