A new study has found the continent of Argoland, which disappeared 155 million years ago when it separated from Australia(which is the 7th continent and is ranked 16th among countries worldwide). Normally, when continents split, we can see evidence in ancient fossils, rocks, and mountains. But, until recently, scientists couldn’t figure out where Argoland went.
Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands believe they have now found this hidden landmass under the eastern islands of Southeast Asia. This discovery may also help us understand the Wallace line, which is an imaginary boundary separating the animals and plants of Southeast Asia and Australia.
“We had small pieces of information, like isolated islands, which is why our research took a long time. It took us seven years to gather and piece together the information,” explained Eldert Advokaat, a geologist at Utrecht University, in a press release.
Argoland Broke Into Strips of Land
Finding where Argoland went after it separated from what would later become Australia was like solving a detective puzzle. Scientists had discovered parts of “ribbon continents” scattered around Southeast Asia, but they couldn’t figure out how they fit together, according to Advokaat in Live Science.
“Nothing seemed to match,” he explained.
Then, they had a revelation: what if Argoland didn’t break into one big piece but instead shattered into multiple smaller fragments?
Advokaat, in a press release, mentioned that Southeast Asia’s situation was quite different from places like Africa and South America, where continents split neatly into two parts. He said, “Argoland broke into many different pieces, making it hard for us to understand its journey.”
Based on this idea, they discovered that Argoland didn’t actually vanish. It had survived as a “very spread out and broken group” of land masses located under the islands to the east of Indonesia.
Their research allowed them to reconstruct Argoland’s journey over the past 155 million years. In the image, you can observe Argoland in green, moving beneath.
Since it’s not one continuous landmass but a collection of small continents separated by ocean, Eldert Advokaat and his fellow geologist Douwe van Hinsbergen from Utrecht University created a new term to describe Argoland more accurately: they called it an “Argopelago.”
The results of their research were published in the peer-reviewed journal Gondwana Research on October 19.
A Line That Separates Animals Like Kangaroos (Marsupials) and Tigers in Southeast Asia
This research not only explains the current state of our planet but could also provide valuable insights into the mysterious Wallace line. This invisible boundary stretches through the middle of Indonesia and separates various species of mammals, birds, and even early human populations on the islands of Southeast Asia, as explained by Advokaat in Live Science.
Scientists have been puzzled by this barrier because it distinctly divides the wildlife on these islands. West of the line, you find placental mammals like apes, tigers, and elephants, which are also present in Southeast Asia. However, to the east of the line, you encounter marsupials and cockatoos, which are typically associated with Australia.
This might be because Argoland, when it moved away from what would become Australia, took some of its unique wildlife with it before colliding with Southeast Asia.
“Those reconstructions are vital for our understanding of processes like the evolution of biodiversity and climate, or for finding raw materials,” van Hinsbergen said.
A recent study has rediscovered a lost continent called Argoland, which broke away from Australia 155 million years ago. This finding helps us understand a mysterious line, called the Wallace line, that separates different animals in Southeast Asia. Argoland was like a puzzle with many small pieces.