IRL, how long could Dinotopia have gone undiscovered?

Pardon me for posting, and I THINK this is more of a General Question than a Cafe Society topic, but I was wondering…

On the mini-series “Dinotopia” on ABC last night, the island of Dinotopia is described as being a couple of hundred miles across, and being unknown to the rest of the world in the 21st century. No “magical” means were used to accomplish this, it’s just surrounded by a particularly dangerous reef. Now, being the nitpicking geek that I am, I’m left with the question: How long, realistically, could Dinotopia have remained unknown to the world at large? I could understand it being undiscovered as late as, say, the 19th century, if it’s sufficiently remote, but how late could you stretch that out? I seem to remember that New Guinea was discovered relatively recently (“relatively” being the operative word, of course. Wasn’t it in the early 20th century, even?)
Well, thanks for everyone’s time, sorry to ramble,


I believe New Guinea was known to European navigators as early as the 16th century. Some of the highland tribes were not contacted by westerners until the 1920s or 1930s, which may be what you are thinking of.

One of the last relatively large islands - comparable in size to the island you mention - to be discovered by Europeans was Hawaii, by Captain Cook in the late 1700s.

I’ve often thought that if I could take over a small island and, using earth movers, shape it into a crest shape, than erect fifty foot high letters spelling “Manufactured by Republic Globe Company” my little island would be totally ignored. Who’d want to deal with the ramifications?

I think with the amount of satellites imaging the globe constantly, there’s no way an island that size would go undetected. Back in the 19th century, when just about the only way to find a place was by going there, maybe. But not now.

Captain Cook also “discovered” New Zealand, in 1769. So did the French Jean de Surville, but since he was there in December, and Cook was there in October, Cook gets the credit in the history books.
There are a flock of islands in the Antarctic that weren’t officially “discovered” until later, but even they were pretty much accounted for by the end of the 19th century, thanks to sealers and whalers.

And of course, there are all the islands that aren’t really there.

So I guess Dinotopia could be “not on the charts” for the same reason that, say, Pagoda Rock is “on the charts”–human error. Maybe somehow nobody ever got around to putting it on the map.

Maybe on the day the satellite was mapping that part of the world, the Landsat tech guy was hungover from the weekend, and didn’t happen to notice that Planet Earth seemed to have an extra island… :smiley:

The first European to visit New Zealand was Abel Tasman in 1642. Cook was the second, more than a century later.

Cook found the Hawaiian Islands in 1778.