They discover a new species, the Saurona Butterfly. It was named after the villain of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga. Researchers at the Natural History Museum in London named it after the similarity of its wing patterns to the “eye of Sauron”.
Two subspecies of the Sauron butterfly.
There are two species of this new butterfly, the triangular and the aurigera. However, scientists believe that there are more varieties, although they have not yet been discovered. Its wings have orange patterns, with dark spots resembling eyes, like those shown in the saga of the famous trilogy.
In a study published in the journal Systematic Entomology, the curators of that museum explained that the name chosen is to attract attention. The group to which this species of butterfly belongs is highly underestimated.
They analyze their DNA to make an accurate classification.
Scientists have been studying butterflies for more than 10 years. Among 400 species studied, from the subspecies Euptychiina, they discovered two different butterflies.
They reconstructed the DNA sequence to make a classification to differentiate them from other butterflies. According to Dr. Blanca Huertas, curator of the museum, it is very difficult to find a new species and even more incredible to discover two.
Characters from The Lord of the Rings serve as inspiration.
This is not the first time that the Lord of the Rings saga has inspired scientists to name a new species. A group of mammal fossils, a new species of crab, a new species of moth and a new species of beetle were named after Gandalf, the famous wizard created by Tolkien.
Likewise, Sauron, not only inspired the scientists of these butterflies, there is also a frog, a dinosaur and a dung beetle with the same name. The dinosaur in question was so named (Sauroniops pachytholus, Sauron’s eye in Greek) because it was as big as a tyrannosaurus rex.
At the same time, new species of snails, fish and moths, were named after Gollum. In biology, it is customary that those who discover a new species are in charge of naming it. Many times, these species are named after their discoverer; on other occasions, like this one, the name comes from fiction. However, the name must always be related to the new species.
As in the case of the sauron butterfly, which exhibits on its wings the closest thing to the eye of the sinister character seen in the movies.
Tolkien’s trilogy is very rich in characters, both heroes and villains. For many, also for science, these characters turn out to be inspiration for naming new species after them.