Argoland, the lost continent

It was one of the greatest unknowns in geology. What happened to Argoland, the lost continent? The theory was that it formed 155 million ago and then disappeared. Geologists from the University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, announced that they managed to find it.

It is a huge piece of land, about 5,000 kilometers long. It broke off from western Australia. It happened when that country was part of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, along with South America, Africa, India and Antarctica.

Argoland, the lost continent, explained by scientists.
Argoland, the lost continent, explained by scientists.

Wallace line

There were only traces of its separation from Australia. They found fossils and mountain ranges. The clearest evidence was the enormous hole left by the piece that separated. It is a basin located in the deep ocean, west of Australia, called the Argo Abyssal Plain. All that was left was to find that piece of land that fit with Australia.

Dutch geologists, led by Eldert Advokaat, solved the mystery. There is no large land mass called Argoland. That continent, after separating, fragmented and became an archipelago. A part sank and today is under Southeast Asia, in the form of oceanic plates. The team of scientists tested different computer models for seven years to find the location of Argoland. «Argoland was divided into many different fragments. “That obstructed our vision of the continent’s journey,” they noted.

A new name was coined that more precisely defines the current geology of the continent: “Argopelago.” This could help explain another mystery that intrigues scientists, in this case biologists. This is the so-called “Wallace line”. It is an invisible barrier that separates the fauna of Southeast Asia from that of Australia. The animals on both sides of this line are very different from each other and do not mix. To the west of the line are placental mammals such as apes, tigers and elephants. To the east are marsupials and cockatoos, animals typically associated with Australia.

Traces were discovered under the ocean.
Traces were discovered under the ocean.

animal mix

«Sundaland (the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo) is home to ‘Eurasian’ animals. Sulawesi is home to “Australasian” animals, a mix between Eurasian and Australian animals,” they indicate.

Argoland, the lost continent, would explain this mixture. The western ‘Eurasian’ part of Sulawesi must have come into contact with the southeastern ‘Australian’ part of Sulawesi between 28 and 3.5 million years ago. This could be because that continent took its own wildlife with it when it separated from Australia and joined Southeast Asia.

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