Research conducted recently has revealed that the earth contains eight and not seven continents. The eighth one discovered recently was hiding from plain sight as it had slid under Europe during tectonic plate movements.
Millions of years ago, the Earth consisted just one massive chunk of land called Pangea, which fragmented into smaller portions, eventually giving rise to continents as we see them now. During this process, the lost eighth continent Greater Adria slipped underneath what now forms Southern Europe.
It took Greater Adria 120 million years to be found by mankind, even though its uppermost reaches form mountain ranges across Europe, case in point being the mighty Alps.
Pangea had broken down into Gondwana and Laurasia. The former fragmented further to give birth to Europe, North America, and Asia, while the latter birthed Antarctica, South America, Africa, and Australia.
However, now scientists are of the opinion that Greater Adria had also chipped away from Gondwana. Due to geological forces, it got shoved under a mass of Europe sized as big as Greenland.
While the “lost world” was half-submerged right from the start, as it kept rumbling towards the Earth’s mantle, the upper layers got peeled away, forming folding mountains.
Douwe van Hinsbergen, the lead author of the study, spent ten years collating geological data to understand the phenomenon that led to the formation and disappearance of Greater Adria.
Hinsbergen and his colleagues are of the opinion that the hidden landmass broke off of Africa some 220 million years ago, before fragmenting away from what came to be known as the Iberian Peninsula.
They added, around 140 million years ago, Greater Adria resembled a series of archipelagos, looking akin to Zealandia, the small clusters of the landmass that underline New Zealand’s northern and southern islands. Then, nearly 100 million years ago, tectonic plate movements might have made it rumble down towards the mantle.The researcher added: The deepest parts of Adria are now buried 1,500 kilometre below Greece.