Named after the demonic Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings films,Â a new species of flesh-ripping dinosaur terrorized North Africa some 95 million years ago, a new study says.
The speciesâ€”Sauroniops pachytholus, or “eye of Sauron” in Greekâ€”was identified from a single fossil unearthed in southeasternÂ Morocco in 2007.
That fossil included only part the upper skullâ€”including the eye socket, study leader Andrea Cau, of theÂ Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini inÂ Bologna, Italy, said by email.
“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 explained.
A Match forÂ T. Rex
As aÂ carcharodontosaurâ€”a type of huge theropod, or two-legged meat-eaterâ€”Sauroniops likely had “a long and deep skull bearing dozens of bladelike teeth,” he said.
Comparisons of the skull fossil with those of related species suggest the creature measured up to 40 feet (12 meters) in length.