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Lemuria
Type Hypothetical lost continent
Notable people Lemurians

Lemuria (pronounced /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 understanding of plate tectonics. Although sunken continents do exist — like Zealandia in the Pacific 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.

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. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

Contents

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,[2] 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![2]

Sclater's theory was hardly unusual for his time. 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.[3] 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').[4] 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, seeking to explain distributions of species across Asia and the Americas.

Superseded

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 (now the only 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.

In 1999, drilling by the JOIDES Resolution research vessel in the Indian Ocean discovered evidence [5] 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.

Blavatsky, Elliot, and Bramwell

Lemuria entered the lexicon of the Occult through the works of Helena Blavatsky, who claimed in the 1880s to have been shown an ancient, pre-Atlantean Book of Dzyan by the Mahatmas. According to L. Sprague de Camp, Blavatsky was influenced by other writers on the theme of Lost Continents, notably Ignatius L. Donnelly, American cult leader Thomas Lake Harris and the French writer Louis Jacolliot.[6]

Within Blavatsky's complex cosmology, which includes seven "Root Races", Lemuria was occupied by the "Third Root Race", described as about seven foot 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 Elliott. The English theosophist said he received his knowledge from the Theosophical Masters by "astral clairvoyance." In 1896, in "The Story of Atlantis & The Lost Lemuria", he described the continent of Lemuria as stretching from the east coast of Africa across the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.[citation needed]

James Bramwell described Lemuria in his book, Lost Atlantis, as “a continent that occupied a large part of what is now the South Pacific Ocean.”[7] Bramwell described the people of Lemuria in detail and attributed them with being one of the “root-races of humanity.” According to Bramwell, Lemurians are the ancestors of the Atlanteans, who survived the period “of the general racial decadence which affected the Lemurians in the last stages of their evolution.” From “a select division of” the Atlanteans - after their promotion to decadence - Bramwell claims the Aryan race arose. “Lemurians, Atlanteans, and Aryans are root-races of humanity,” according to Bramwell.[8]

Lemuria and Mount Shasta

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. Oliver claimed 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, The Summit Lighthouse, Church Universal and Triumphant, and The Hearts Center. Nowadays this thesis is also described by Kryon.[citation needed]

Kumari Kandam and Lemuria

"Lemuria" in Tamil nationalist mysticist literature, connecting Madagascar, South India and Australia (covering most of the Indian Ocean).

Kumari Kandam is a legendary sunken kingdom sometimes compared with Lemuria (cf. works of G. Devaneyan, Tamil: ஞானமுத்தன் தேவநேயன்).In Tamil tradition, Kumari Kandam is referred to as the Land of Purity, a sophisticated kingdom of higher learning, located south of Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin. During a violent geologic catastrophy the entire island was submerged under the water. The survivors migrated to the present Indian subcontinent and supposedly sparked the Indus Valley civilization. This mass of land is often compared to the island of Lemuria.[9]

According to these modernist interpretations of motifs in classical Tamil literature — the epics Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai that describe the submerged city of Puhar[10]— the Dravidians originally came from land south of the present day coast of South India that became submerged by successive floods. There are various claims from Tamil authors that there was a large land mass connecting Madagascar and Australia from the Southwest and Southeast respectively to the present-day Kanyakumari District coast.

Another piece of literature in Ayyavazhi mythology, specifically Akilathirattu Ammanai speaks of a sunken land about 152 miles south of present day Kanyakumari. It goes on to describe the civilization with exactly 16008 streets.[10]

In popular culture

  • Richard Sharpe Shaver's "I Remember Lemuria" and "Thought Records of Lemuria" featured in the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, in the March and June 1945 issues.[11]
  • In Dougal Dixon's After Man: A Zoology of the Future, Lemuria is the name of a subcontinent that, 50 million years from now, has broken off from East Africa.
  • Therion's song Lemuria, from the 2004 album with the same name, is about the quest to find the lost continent of Lemuria.

See also

References

  1. ^ OED
  2. ^ a b Neild, Ted Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet pp.Harvard University Press (2 Nov 2007) ISBN 978-0674026599 pp.38-39
  3. ^ Neild, Ted Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet pp.Harvard University Press (2 Nov 2007) ISBN 978-0674026599 p.38
  4. ^ L. Sprague de Camp, Lost Continents, 1954 (First Edition), p. 52
  5. ^ "'Lost continent' discovered". BBC News. 27 May 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/353277.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  6. ^ Sprague de Camp, L. (1970). Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature. Dover Publications. p. 58. "Madame Blavatsky's lost-continent doctrine seems to be based largely on the works of Donnelly, Harris and Jacolliot" 
  7. ^ Bramwell, James. Lost Atlantis. (Hollywood: Newcastle, 1974), 193.
  8. ^ Bramwell, 195.
  9. ^ The Atlantis Encyclopedia By Frank Joseph
  10. ^ a b Geomatics in Tsunami By Sm Ramasamy, India Dept. of Science and Technology. Natural Resources Database
  11. ^ The cover of I remember Lemuria is featured in an article Warum Aliens nicht grün sein müssen (German) (Why Aliens don't have to be green) at Telepolis.

Further reading

  • Ramaswamy, Sumathi (2004). The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories. University of California Press. ISBN 0520240324. 
  • Frederick Spencer Oliver, A Dweller on Two Planets, 1905

External links








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