Did the Royal Society in 1771 believe that a massive southern continent should exist?

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Had there been uncomfirmed sightings previously, or was this belief predicated on theoretical predictions?

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It was on the book The south pacifick ocean made by Alexander Dalrymple in which he believed that based primarily on his translations of Spanish documents captured in the Philippines in 1762, in particular, those describing Luis Vaez de Torres' account of a voyage south of New Guinea. He supplemented the information in those translations with records of Dutch explorations.

These described sightings of land which, when plotted on a chart, convinced him that they must be parts of a massive continent in the southern latitudes.

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