It took scientists 375 years to discover the eighth continent of the world, which has been hiding in plain sight all along. But mysteries still remain.
About 3,500 feet under the South Pacific sits a piece of land 2 million square miles in size — about half as big as Australia.
In 2017, a group of geologists hit the headlines when they announced their discovery of Zealandia –Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language. A vast continent of 1.89 million sq miles (4.9 million sq km) it is around six times the size of Madagascar.
But scientists can’t agree on whether this submerged landmass, called Zealandia, is a continent or not. A team of geologists declared it one in 2017, but not all researchers are convinced.
“It’s not like a mountain, country, or planet. There is no formal body to approve a continent,” Nick Mortimer, a geologist from New Zealand’s GNS Science who led the 2017 group, told Insider.
But this is just the beginning. Four years on and the continent is as enigmatic as ever, its secrets jealously guarded beneath 6,560 ft (2km) of water. How was it formed? What used to live there? And how long has it been underwater?