Did unknown continents once span oceans in the East? In the mid-nineteenth century, naturalist began seeking explanations for similarities in some animal and plant species from lands separated by vast stretches of water. The lemur, for example, inhabits parts of Africa and Asia bordering the Indian Ocean, and a theory developed that its original home, now under the sea, was a huge land mass linking those areas. In the 1850s a British zoologist, Philip L. Slater, named this lost continent “Lemuria.” The concept was adopted by psychic Helena Blavatsky, who alleged that Lemuria’s inhabitants were a “root race” of humankind. Blavatsky described Lemurians as 4.5 meters tall, egg-laying, psychic creatures with four arms, wide-set eyes, protruding muzzles in flat faces and bizarre feet with heels that allowed them to walk forwards or backwards. Philosopher Rudolph Steiner claimed that a hidden repository of the history of the universe, the “Akashic Chronicle,” also identified Lemurians as human ancestors.
In 1870 a former Bengal Lancer named Colonel James Churchward announced that a Hindu priest in India had shown him secret ancient tablets documenting a continent called Mu extending 9600 kilometers from north of Hawaii to south of Easter Island. According to Churchward, a volcanic eruption, plus earthquakes and tidal waves, destroyed Mu about 12,000 years ago. Island remnants were scattered across the Pacific, and from Muvian survivors came the world’s peoples.
Legends of lost continents have been known throughout Pacific cultures. Hawaiians, for example, believed a huge land mass once joined their islands to New Zealand. And Easter Islanders tell of a hero arriving from a submerged land to the west. Geographers know that some islands of the Pacific Ocean have sunk over the centuries. Perhaps subsidence has occurred on an even larger scale.
Churchward’s claims were supported by Augustus Le Plongeon, a nineteenth-century excavator of ruins in Central America who believed the Maya were descended from Muvians. Archaeologist Reesdon Hurdlop was reported in 1959 to have located documents left in Mexico by Kland, a priest from Mu. His story became suspect with the realization that “Reesdon Hurdlop” is an anagram of “Rednose Rudolph.” Both Lemuria and Mu remain no more than intriguing possibilities.