Lemuria: The Other Lost Continent

By Karen Harris

A general view of the Anse Georgette beach on in Praslin Island, Seychelles, where the lost continent of Lemuria is said to have been located. (Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

We're all familiar with the legend of Atlantis, the fabled continent that sunk into the sea one day to be lost forever, but did you know Atlantis is not the only landmass that, according to legend, plunged into the ocean in antiquity, taking with it a great, progressive society? Since the 19th century, scientists have theorized that there was once a landmass in the Indian Ocean linking India with Madagascar and Australia. This other lost continent was called Lemuria.

Origins Of Lemuria

In the mid-1850s, ornithologist Philip Lutely Sclater traveled to Madagascar to study the island's unique wildlife, unearthed fossilized remains of animals similar to those found in India and the mainland of Africa such as lemurs, and hypothesized that a land bridge he aptly named Lemuria once linked the three regions. In his 1868 book The History Of Creation, German biologist Ernst Haeckel proposed that Lemuria was actually a large continent where the human race originated that had since sunk, leaving only the land we know as Australia above water. Haeckel's theory may have been partially based on a story told by the Tamil people of southern India of a land called the Kumari Kandam, where the powerful Pandiyan kings lived, that had great cities and a highly advanced culture but sank into the sea. When Plato first wrote about Atlantis in 360 B.C.E., he may have been influenced by stories of Kumari Kandam.

Hypothetical sketch of the monophylitic origin and of the diffusion of the 12 varieties of men from Lemuria over the Earth. (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

Getting Weird With Lemuria

After Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking theory of evolution in 1859, Russian author and occultist Elena Blavatskaja suggested that humans evolved on Lemuria from giants with four arms who lived in the time of dinosaurs, in addition to many other proposed species of Lemurian proto-humans. Her 1888 book, The Secret Doctrinecoincided with the explosion of the science-fiction genre and inspired many of its writers, who spun tales of everything from robots and aliens to super-advanced humans and interdimensional beings lurking around Lemuria.

For all its fantastical incarnations, however, there may be a shred of truth to the stories of a lost continent in the Indian Ocean. Geologists announced in 2013 that they discovered rocks and minerals on the Mauritius islands as old as a whopping three billion years, long before the islands formed, suggesting they came from a much older landmass that sank into the ocean only to rise again.

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.