Well, some geek had a fantastic day at work. A new species of dinosaur, discovered in southeastern Morocco back in 2007, has been named after the flaming Eye of Sauron from J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Lord of the Rings novels and subsequent film adaptations by filmmaker Peter Jackson.
The dinosaur, which lived in North Africa around 95 million years ago, was identified only by a single fossil that included part of the upper skull, including—of course—the eye socket. Study leader Andrea Cau, from the Museo Geologico Giovanni Calpellini (Bologna, Italy) said that “the idea of a predator that is physically known only as its fierce eye reminded me of Sauron, in particular as depicted in Peter Jackson’s movies.”
Now named the Sauroniops pachytholus—literally “eye of Sauron” in Greek—the creature is considered a carcharodontosaur, a type of theropod dinosaur. And if you didn’t catch that, it means it’s a two-legged, flesh-tearing meat eater. Cau explained that the Sauroniops probably had “a long and deep skull bearing dozens of bladeline teeth.” When compared with other related species, the skull fossil suggests that the dinosaur was about 12 meters long (40 feet) during its lifetime.
This means the Eye-of-Sauron-asaurus may have been bigger than the more commonly known Tyrannosaurus Rex, but without additional fossils, it’s hard for palaeontologists to say for sure. This guy also had a distinctive bump on its forehead, which is thought to have been used for head-butting during things like mating displays or territory disputes.
Finally, it seems that the Sauroniops didn’t prefer living alone in a large tower, but along the banks of a wide delta in a hot climate, full of food like crocodiles and fish. Sounds somewhat preferable to a volcanic wasteland, all things considered.