is the name of a continent that allegedly existed in the vastness of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a time before Atlantis. Unlike the legendary Atlantis, however, it is not part of a twenty-five hundred year old myth but is rather based on a 19th century hypothesis erroneously advanced by zoologist and biogeographer Philip Sclater in an article published in The Quarterly Journal of Science titled “The Mammals of Madagascar.” Sclater, in order to explain how related primates could be found in areas separated by thousands of miles of ocean, proposed that Madagascar and India were once the opposite sides of a submerged landmass.

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!

His assumption was of course incorrect, but in a time before the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift became an excepted geological fact, sunken continents along with land bridges were often used to explain how similar species and rock formations could be found in widely separated locations. Indeed, many scientists seeking an explanation for the distribution of similar species in both Asia and the Americas quickly jumped on the bandwagon extending the scope and size of the alleged landmass until it filled a large part of the Pacific. [1] [2] [3]

[1] The Tamil peoples of Southern India and North-Eastern Sri Lanka make reference in their literature to a sunken landmass (Kumari Kandam) located in the ocean south of India and identified with Lemuria by Tamil nationalists in the late 19th early 20th centuries.

[2] Sunken continents do exist in the Pacific and Indian oceans (Zealandia and the Kerguelen Plateau) but fall far outside both the geographical and geological parameters proposed for Lemuria.

[3] In modern popular culture many authors, Lin Carter, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to name a few, have ascribed Atlantean attributes, both good and bad, to Lemuria the hypothetical “lost land“ of the Indian/Pacific Oceans.

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