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The lost continent of Lemuria was first hypothesized during the 1860s to explain the geographic distribution of lemurs, which are found on the island of Madagascar off the eastern coast of Africa and in Southeast Asia but not in any of the lands in between. Scientists hypothesized that a land mass must have connected Africa to the Indian subcontinent some 250 to 65 million years ago; some suggested that it stretched all the way to Australia.[1] This theory fell out of favor in the scientific community as lemur-like fossils were discovered in other parts of the world and plate tectonics became better understood,[2] but enthusiasm among the general public has long outlived scientific interest. Today, Lemuria figures prominently as a lost homeland in the lore of Tamil nationalism in southern mainland India, though historian Sumathi Ramaswamy notes that "Lemuria hardly figures in the Tamil nationalist imagination of modern Sri Lanka."[3] It also figures in fringe ideas and in fiction.


  1. Sumathi Ramaswamy. 1999. Catastrophic Cartographies: Mapping the Lost Continent of Lemuria. Representations 67:92-129
  2. Reader's Digest. 1986. Mysteries of the Ancient Americas: The New World before Columbus. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association.
  3. Sumathi Ramaswamy. 2004. Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 172.