A new genus of butterfly has been discovered, and the scientists who found it decided to name the critter after a famous Lord of the Rings villain.
The Natural History Museum of London has announced the discovery of a genus they are calling “Saurona,” named after the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings.
The researchers landed on this name because the newly discovered butterflies have orange wings and eyespots that look a bit like the Eye of Sauron. The scientists, in fact, made two discoveries and named them Saurona triangula and Saurona aurigera.
One does not simply walk into Mordor – but you can name #butterflies after its leader! 🦋
A new group of butterflies has been named Saurona in honour of J.R.R Tolkien’s #LordOfTheRings villain.
Discover the reasons behind the name 👇https://t.co/mddZUR69U0
— Natural History Museum (@NHM_London) May 7, 2023
Dr. Blanca Huertas, the senior curator of butterflies at the museum, said giving the butterflies a fun name helps draw attention to the flying insects.
“It shows that, even among a group of very similar-looking species, you can find beauty among the dullness,” Huertas said.
The butterflies aren’t the first critters to be named after Sauron specifically, as there is already a dinosaur (Sauroniops) and a frog (Nyctimystes sauroni) that get their name from the iconic fantasy villain. The idea, scientists say, is to give newly discovered creatures fun and eye-catching names to help bring more attention and awareness to science and Earth studies. Before this, Australian scientists named a newly discovered insect after Pokemon.
In other Lord of the Rings news, WB Discovery has announced plans to develop new The Lord of the Rings movies–but it is very early days. Beyond those, an animated movie, War of the Rohirrim, is set for release in 2024. The next Lord of the Rings video game, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, releases on May 25.