Lemuria is the name of a hypothetical "lost land" variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its 19th century origins lie in attempts to account for discontinuities in bio-geography. Lemuria has been rendered superfluous by modern understanding of plate tectonics.

Though Lemuria has passed out of the realm of science, it has been adopted by occult writers, as well as some Tamil people of India. Accounts of Lemuria differ according to the requirements of their contexts. However, all share a common belief that the continent existed in ancient times but sank beneath the ocean as a result of geological change, often cataclysmic.

Geologists today regard sunken continents as physical impossibilities, given the isostatic equilibrium of continental plates floating on the thermoplastic mantle.

Though living modern lemurs are only found in Madagascar and several surrounding islands, the biogeography of extinct lemurs extending from Pakistan to Malaya inspired the name Lemuria, which was coined in 1864 by the geologist Philip Sclater in an article "The Mammals of Madagascar" in The Quarterly Journal of Science. Puzzled by the presence of fossil lemurs in both Madagascar and India, but not in Africa nor the Middle East, Sclater proposed that Madagascar and India had once been part of a larger continent, which he named Lemuria for its lemurs.

Sclater's theory was hardly unusual for his time. 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, scientists frequently postulated submerged land masses in order to account for populations of land-based species now separated by barriers of water. Many hypothetical submerged land bridges and continents were proposed during the 19th century, in order to account for the present distribution of species.

As Lemuria gained some acceptance within the scientific community, it 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. Locating the origins of the human species on this lost continent, he claimed the fossil record could not be found because it had sunk beneath the sea.

Other scientists hypothesized that Lemuria had extended across parts of the Pacific oceans, explaining distributions of species across Asia and the Americas.

The Lemuria theory disappeared completely from practical consideration, after the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift were accepted by the larger scientific community.

Lemuria entered the lexicon of the Occult through the works of Madame Blavatsky, who claimed in the 1880s to have been shown an ancient, pre-Atlantean Book of Dzyan by the Mahatmas. Within Blavatsky's complex cosmology, Lemuria was occupied by a "Third Root Race," which was sexually hermaphroditical, mentally undeveloped and spiritually more pure than the current "Fifth Root Race."

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.

In 1894, Frederick Spencer Oliver published A Dweller on Two Planets, which claimed that survivors from a sunken continent called Lemuria were living in or on Mount Shasta in northern California. The Lemurians lived in a complex of tunnels beneath the mountain and occasionally were seen walking the surface dressed in white robes.

This belief has been repeated by such individuals as the cultist Guy Warren Ballard in the 1930s who formed the I AM Foundation. It is also repeated by followers of the Ascended Masters and the Great White Brotherhood. This list includes such organizations as Bridge to Freedom, Summit Lighthouse, Church Universal and Triumphant, Temple of the Presence, and Hearts Center.

In a section of the late Mayan period Madrid Codex that is sometimes called the Troano Codex, fanciful archaeologists in the days before Mayan glyphs had been translated thought they were able to interpret illustrations as "records" of a continent in the Pacific, destroyed by volcanic activity. Supposedly, a similar legend has been translated from unspecified "Sanskrit tablets" that describe a continent called Rutas.

Kumari Kandam is a mythical sunken kingdom sometimes compared with Lemuria. According to a modern interpretation of Tamil tradition—the epics Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai that describe the submerged city of Puhar—the Dravidians originally came from this submerged island off the coast of southern India.

In reptilian conspiracy literature, a sunken Pacific continent (usually styled as Lemuria or Mu) is sometimes posited as the homeland of a reptilian race of creatures, often identified with dragons or nagas. Various bits of mythology and folklore are assembled in support, such as the Cambodian naga traditions. Folkloric claims of Australian aborigines sighting "dinosaur-like" creatures are also often viewed as evidence.

The earliest attestation of such notions in modern literature seems to have occurred in the works of H.P. Blavatsky, notably in The Secret Doctrine (1888), where she writes of "Dragon-men" who once had a mighty civilization on a Lemurian continent, until their rampant use of black magic brought about the end of their civilization, and their continent sank. Blavatsky in turn claims to have gotten this information from The Book of Dzyan. However, many consider that Blavatsky invented the Book herself. Blavatsky believed that the terms "Dragon-men" or "Serpent-men" used to describe the Lemurian beings in the Book of Dzyan were symbolic, intended to symbolize their advanced knowledge and magical powers.

Another early occurrence of the idea seems to be in the Alley Oop (1932) comic-strip, where lands named Moo and Lem (adapted from Mu and Lemuria respectively) are presented as dinosaur-infested lands. Lemuria also appears in the game "Golden Sun: The Lost Age".Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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