New Dinosaur Named After Tolkien's 'Eye of Sauron'

Beast IDed from eye-socket-containing fossil fragment

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 7, 2012 10:38 AM CST

(Newser) – Paleontologists have identified a new 40-foot, flesh-eating dinosaur from a single fossil fragment containing a single eye-socket—and named the beast after an evil character from the Lord of the Rings, National Geographic reports. The Sauroniops pachytholus (or "Eye of Sauron" in Greek) apparently rivaled the Tyrannosaurus Rex in size and shape, stalked on two legs, and roamed North Africa about 95 million years ago, according to a new study. Its skull fragment also revealed a bump on the forehead, which may have been used for head-butting.

"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," says study leader Andrea Cau. She admits the fragment isn't much to go on, so the size and shape are just estimates. Still, researchers know it lived on "the banks of a large delta, under a hot and warm climate, very rich of fishes and crocodiles" along with at least one other large species of theropod, she says. "The abundance of food may explain the abundance of predatory dinosaurs."

An artist's rendering of a Sauroniops eating a young Spinosaurus near two other Spinosaurus.
An artist's rendering of a Sauroniops eating a young Spinosaurus near two other Spinosaurus.   (Smithsonian)
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