Scientists have unearthed evidence of an ancient ‘lost continent’ in the Indian Ocean – but it isn’t the fabled city of Atlantis.
The continent, which has been dubbed ‘Mauritia’ by geologists, is believed to have formed sections of present-day Madagascar and India – with the rest sinking underneath the sea some 84 million years ago.
According to USAToday, the evidence was discovered in the Indian Ocean surrounding Mauritius – after researchers found an ancient mineral that wasn’t native to the area.
The mineral, known as Zircon, is usually found found in volcanic rocks – and was discovered by South African geologist Lewis Ashwal and his team.
But while some of the zircon crystals were estimated to be more than 3 billion years old, Mauritius is comparatively youthful – having been in existence for only a few million years.
For Professor Ashwal, this was proof that they must have originated from an older continent.
He said: ‘The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent.’
It’s also believed that the Mauritia continent formed part of Gondwana, an ancient supercontinent that broke up to form Africa, Australia, Antarctica and South America.
Professor Ashwal added: ‘We are studying the break-up process of the continents, in order to understand the geological history of the planet.’