A team of Japanese and Brazilian scientists say they may have discovered part of the earth's original continent off the coast of Brazil that existed before the Americas, Africa, Europe and other major land masses drifted apart.

The researchers announced on Tuesday that samples of rock from the site appear to be remnants of Pangea, the prehistoric supercontinent from which the Americas, Africa, and other present-day land masses eventually emerged.

Researchers from the Brazilian Geological Survey, the Oceanographic Institute of Sao Paolo, and Japan's Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology found the rocks during an expedition to study the Rio Grande Elevation, a high-rising mass of ocean floor about 930 miles from the shore of Rio de Janeiro.

Over a month of study, the team analyzed the formation up close through a series of dives in a three-person submersible craft to as far down as 21,000 feet below the surface. The scientists say the so-called Rio Grande Elevation features granite and minerals, including iron, manganese, and cobalt, that differentiate it from the rest of the surrounding seabed.

These materials, normally found on dry land, suggest that a continent once existed in the region and then sank.

 "This could be the Brazilian Atlantis. We are almost certain but we must bolster our hypothesis. We will have final (scientific) recognition this year when we conduct drilling in the area to retrieve more samples of these rocks," Santos told G1, a Brazilian publication.

"From an analysis, we began to see that the area could be a piece of the continent that disappeared into the sea millions of years ago," Santos added.

Shinichi Kawakami, a professor at Gifu University, said researchers must look further into the composition of the granite and see if it matches the granite now found in Africa or South America.

South America and Africa used to be a huge, unified continent. The area in question may have been left in water as the continent was separated in line with the movements of plates," said Kawakami, according to the Japan Times.

"The concept of Atlantis came way before geology of the modern age was established. We should not jump to the Atlantis (conclusion) right away," he added.