[Taxacom] Supposed new continent

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sun Mar 12 14:13:17 CDT 2017

Just an additional note on the new 'continent'

9 MARCH 2017 | VOL 543 | NATURE | 179

Zealandia is not a continent Now recognized in international law, Zealandia
— the continental shelf and margin surrounding New Zealand — is vast and
worthy of inquiry. However, we disagree with attempts to recharacterize it
as the ‘eighth continent’ (see Nature http://doi. org/b2fk; 2017).
Zealandia has been extensively studied since 1895 (see W.H.F. Smith and
D.T. Sandwell Science 277, 1956–1962; 1997). Such studies underpinned New
Zealand’s successful application to the United Nations to extend the limits
of the continental shelf and its economic exclusion zone (see
go.nature.com/2mbwmb). Continents are defined by the Oxford English
Dictionary as continuous terrestrial geographical features (“as
distinguished from islands, islets, or peninsulas”). Geologists do not
define continents: instead, they characterize the types of crust and
delineate their geological features. By this definition, Zealandia is not a
continent. Indeed, it is 94% continental margin with an extended shelf.
Elizabeth M. Dowding, Malte C. Ebach University of New South Wales, Sydney,
Australia. dowding.e.m at gmail.com

On Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 10:11 PM, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com>

> In agreement on these observations. And one cannot even appeal to
> monophyly for Zealandia either by geology or biogeography. And Iceland also
> has evidence of a continental block beneath. Like naming taxa after
> prominent controversial people, naming continents is a bit of a game, but
> one that works for gaining public attention. Probably these 'continental'
> names will gain formalization if someone sufficiently influential publishes
> them part as widely accepted renditions and then they will be added to the
> innumerable names of things that students have to learn. Maybe better to
> sink the names along with the continents :)
> John Grehan
> On Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 9:29 PM, Kenneth Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com>
> wrote:
>> According to this definition, is Europe really a separate continent?
>> More like a subcontinent or very large peninsula of Eurasia.  Even those
>> who call Europe a separate continent can't seem to agree where it leaves
>> off and Asia begins.
>> As for Zealandia, as well as another new "continent" called Mauritia,
>> perhaps microcontinent might be in order (or follow the astronomers lead
>> and call them "dwarf" continents).  Would Iceland also qualify?  Where do
>> you draw the line?
>>                ---------------Ken
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of John
>> Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com>
>> *Sent:* Friday, February 17, 2017 9:54 AM
>> *To:* taxacom
>> *Subject:* [Taxacom] Supposed new continent
>> .......
>> Researchers said Zealandia was a distinct geological entity and met all
>> the
>> criteria applied to Earth's seven other continents -- elevation above the
>> surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust
>> much
>> thicker than that found on the ocean floor.
>> ...

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