The discovery of a skull fossil in Morocco has revealed a new species of giant, meat-eating dinosaur.
Paleontologists have found the fossil of a previously unknown species of dinosaur that roamed the planet 95 million years ago. More specially, it was native to North Africa, and the meat-eater was as big as the Tyrannosaurus rex. The fossil was discovered in Morocco in 2007, and a research paper on the discovery has just been published. Paleontologists went with the name Sauroniops pachytholus, which is Greek for “eye of Sauron.”
The eye of Sauron, of course, is a prominent symbol from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The species was given the name due to its fossilized eye socket. Because paleontologists only found part of its skull, that was the fossil’s most defining characteristic. According to Andrea Cau, the paper’s lead author, “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.”
Despite only finding a skull fragment, paleontologists were still able to tell quite a bit about what Sauroniops was like. It was a big eater that likely had “a long and deep skull bearing dozens of bladelike teeth,” and lived among other giant dinosaurs in an area rich with food. The skull was “broad and particularly thick” and revealed that Sauroniops had a distinctive bump on the front of its head, possibly used for head-butting during mating rituals. The Dark Lord of Mordor could not be reached for comment.
Image: National Geographic