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We were taught at school that there were nine planets, but now there are eight (scientists said Pluto is not planet). Now we may have to change our thinking about how many continents there are. We are taught there are seven continents - Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. Geologists (people who study land and earth) now say there is eighth continent - Zealandia. This is huge, largely underwater landmass in southern Pacific Ocean. Six per cent of this landmass is above water and is what we know as New Zealand and New Caledonia. Around 94 per cent of it is under ocean. In total, it measures five million square kilometres, which scientists say is big enough to be continent.

Geologists explained why they think Zealandia is continent. They wrote research paper and published it in Geological Society of America's Journal. They argue that land does not have to be above water for it to be continent. They said four different points make Zealandia continent. It is lot higher than surrounding area, it has unique geology, it is easy to find shape of the continent, and it is lot thicker than ocean floor. Nick Mortimer, geologist at GNS Science in New Zealand, said it would be easy to understand that Zealandia is continent, "if you could pull the plug on world's oceans" and let the water out. However, it may take some time before scientists agree that there are eight continents.

Back to the Zealandia lesson.

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