The .mb and .ma file are both maya, but you can open ASCII [.ma] files in a text editor such as notepad and edit/render the work without opening Maya itself.
In your case, the file was created in a newer version of Maya. You might have 4.0 and the file might be 4.5 for example.
You can edit some of the text in notepad [i use ConTEXT] and import it into Maya and it should run. Izzy and/or Kevin should know exacly what to edit.
Yeah, but no but yeah but no....