Look out Tyrannosaurus Rex, you have a challenger in the terrifying dinosaur name department.
Paleontologists at the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini in Bologna, Italy, have revealed to the world a new species of dinosaur named Sauroniops pachytholus, or "eye of Sauron" in Greek. The creature, which roamed the Earth some 95 million years ago, was so named after a single skull fossil was discovered with a large eye socket.
"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," team leader Andrea Cau told National Geographic. "The skull bone of Sauroniops is very broad and particularly thick. This suggests an animal as big as Tyrannosaurus [rex]."
For those not familiar with the characters from J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" saga, Sauron plays the role of the "big bad" who comes up with a clever plan to ensnare all the world's races with magic rings. In the recent films by Peter Jackson, he's portrayed as a giant single fiery eye overlooking Mordor in Middle Earth. Reading what I just typed, it all makes little sense if you haven't read the books or seen the movie, but let's just say he's an evil dude.
Estimates put Sauroniops at about 40 feet long, with a "distinctive bump on its forehead" likely for head-butting other males in competition for mates. Oh, and it also had a "a long and deep skull bearing dozens of bladelike teeth." Ouch.
No doubt Stephen Colbert, a gigantic "Lord of the Rings" fan who regularly references the novel's fictional characters on his show, will be thrilled with the name.