New T. Rex-sized dino dubbed 'Sauron'

Nov. 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM
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BOLOGNA, Italy, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A dinosaur species that lived in North Africa 95 million years ago has been named for the demonic Eye of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings films, scientists say.

A single fossil of the species dubbed Sauroniops pachytholus, or "eye of Sauron" in Greek, was unearthed in southeastern Morocco in 2007.

Part of the upper skull included the eye socket, study leader Andrea Cau of the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini in Bologna, Italy, said in an email to National Geographic News.

"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," Cau said.

Sauroniops was a carcharodontosaur, a type of huge two-legged carnivore, and probably possessed "a long and deep skull bearing dozens of blade-like teeth," he said.

"The skull bone of Sauroniops is very broad and particularly thick: This suggests an animal as big as Tyrannosaurus [rex]," Cau said.

North Africa has yielded fossils of a number of large, carnivorous dinosaur species.

"Sauroniops lived along the banks of a large delta, under a hot and warm climate, very rich of fishes and crocodiles," Cau said. "The abundance of food may explain the abundance of predatory dinosaurs."

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