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The Lost Land of Lemuria Options
Posted: Friday, September 15, 2017 12:00:00 AM
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The Lost Land of Lemuria

Puzzled by the presence of lemur fossils in Madagascar and India—but not in Africa or the Middle East—19th-century geologist Philip Sclater theorized that the two land masses containing the fossils had once been part of a larger, now mostly submerged continent, which he named "Lemuria." Following the scientific community's acceptance of the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift, however, Sclater's theory was widely dismissed. What is one example of an actual sunken continent? More...
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Posted: Friday, September 15, 2017 4:02:31 AM

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Lemuria (continent)
Lemuria (continent)
Ancient Lemuria
Type Hypothetical lost continent
Notable characters Lemurians

Lemuria /lɨˈmjʊəriə/[1] is the name of a hypothetical "lost land" variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The concept's 19th century origins lie in attempts to account for discontinuities in biogeography; however, the concept of Lemuria has been rendered obsolete by modern theories of plate tectonics. Although sunken continents do exist – like Zealandia in the Pacific as well as Mauritia [2] and the Kerguelen Plateau in the Indian Ocean – there is no known geological formation under the Indian or Pacific Oceans that corresponds to the hypothetical Lemuria.[3]

Though Lemuria is no longer considered a valid scientific hypothesis, it has been adopted by writers involved in the occult, as well as some Tamil writers of India. Accounts of Lemuria differ, but all share a common belief that a continent existed in ancient times and sank beneath the ocean as a result of a geological, often cataclysmic, change, such as pole shift.
Scientific origins

In 1864 the zoologist and biogeographer Philip Sclater wrote an article on "The Mammals of Madagascar" in The Quarterly Journal of Science. Using a classification he referred to as lemurs but which included related primate groups,[4] and puzzled by the presence of their fossils in both Madagascar and India but not in Africa or the Middle East, Sclater proposed that Madagascar and India had once been part of a larger continent. He wrote:

The anomalies of the Mammal fauna of Madagascar can best be explained by supposing that ... a large continent occupied parts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans ... that this continent was broken up into islands, of which some have become amalgamated with ... Africa, some ... with what is now Asia; and that in Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands we have existing relics of this great continent, for which ... I should propose the name Lemuria![4]

Sclater's theory was hardly unusual for his time: "land bridges", real and imagined, fascinated several of Sclater's contemporaries. Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, also looking at the relationship between animals in India and Madagascar, had suggested a southern continent about two decades before Sclater, but did not give it a name.[5] The acceptance of Darwinism led scientists to seek to trace the diffusion of species from their points of evolutionary origin. Prior to the acceptance of continental drift, biologists frequently postulated submerged land masses in order to account for populations of land-based species now separated by barriers of water. Similarly, geologists tried to account for striking resemblances of rock formations on different continents. The first systematic attempt was made by Melchior Neumayr in his book Erdgeschichte in 1887. Many hypothetical submerged land bridges and continents were proposed during the 19th century, in order to account for the present distribution of species.

After gaining some acceptance within the scientific community, the concept of Lemuria began to appear in the works of other scholars. Ernst Haeckel, a German Darwinian taxonomist, proposed Lemuria as an explanation for the absence of "missing link" fossil records. According to another source, Haeckel put forward this thesis prior to Sclater (but without using the name "Lemuria").[6] Locating the origins of the human species on this lost continent, he claimed the fossil record could not be found because it sunk beneath the sea.

Other scientists hypothesized that Lemuria had extended across parts of the Pacific oceans, seeking to explain the distribution of various species across Asia and the Americas.

J. H Moore writing in his book Savage Survivals (1933) wrote:

It is believed that man evolved somewhere in southern Asia, or possibly, still further south than the present boundary of Asia, in lands now drowned by the Indian Ocean. This supposed land is called Lemuria.[7]


The Lemuria theory disappeared completely from conventional scientific consideration after the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift were accepted by the larger scientific community. According to the theory of plate tectonics (the current accepted paradigm in geology), Madagascar and India were indeed once part of the same landmass (thus accounting for geological resemblances), but plate movement caused India to break away millions of years ago, and move to its present location. The original landmass broke apart – it did not sink beneath sea level.[citation needed]

In 1999, drilling by the JOIDES Resolution research vessel in the Indian Ocean discovered evidence[8] that a large island, the Kerguelen Plateau, was submerged about 20 million years ago by rising sea levels. Samples showed pollen and fragments of wood in a 90-million-year-old sediment. Although this discovery might encourage scholars to expect similarities in dinosaur fossil evidence, and may contribute to understanding the breakup of the Indian and Australian land masses, it does not support the concept of Lemuria as a land bridge for mammals.

In 2013, the study of grains of sand from the beaches of Mauritius lead to the conclusion that a similar landmass would have existed between 2,000 and 85 million years ago.[2]
Blavatsky, Elliot, and Bramwell
Map of Lemuria superimposed over the modern continents from Scott-Elliott's The Story of Atlantis and Lost Lemuria.

Lemuria entered the lexicon of the Occult through the works of Helena Blavatsky, who claimed to have been shown an ancient, pre-Atlantean Book of Dzyan by the Mahatmas. Lemuria is mentioned in an 1882 Mahatma letter to A.P. Sinnett.[9] According to L. Sprague de Camp, Blavatsky's concept of Lemuria was influenced by other contemporaneous writers on the theme of Lost Continents, notably Ignatius L. Donnelly, American cult leader Thomas Lake Harris and the French writer Louis Jacolliot.[10]

Within Blavatsky's complex cosmology, which includes seven "Root Races", Lemuria was occupied by the "Third Root Race", described as being about 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, sexually hermaphroditic, egg-laying, mentally undeveloped and spiritually more pure than the following "Root Races". Before the coming of the Lemurians, the second "Root Race" is said to have dwelled in Hyperborea. After the subsequent creation of mammals, Mme Blavatsky revealed to her readers, some Lemurians turned to bestiality. The gods, aghast at the behavior of these "mindless" men, sank Lemuria into the ocean and created a "Fourth Root Race" – endowed with intellect – on Atlantis.[citation needed]

One of the most elaborate accounts of lost continents was given by the later theosophical author William Scott-Elliot. The English theosophist received his knowledge from Charles Webster Leadbeater, who communicated with the Theosophical Masters by "astral clairvoyance". In 1896 he published The Story of Atlantis, followed in 1904 by The Lost Lemuria, in which he included a map of the continent of Lemuria as stretching from the east coast of Africa across the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.[11]

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