Named after the demonic Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings films, a new species of flesh-ripping dinosaur terrorized North Africa some 95 million years ago, a new study says. The species–Sauroniops pachytholus, or “eye of Sauron” in Greek–was identified from a single fossil unearthed in southeastern Morocco in 2007.
“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. (See a picture of an alien planet that resembles the Eye of Sauron.)
As a carcharodontosaur–a type of huge theropod, or two-legged meat-eater–Sauroniops likely had “a long and deep skull bearing dozens of bladelike teeth,” he said. (See pictures of bizarre dinosaurs in National Geographic magazine.)
Comparisons of the skull fossil with those of related species suggest the creature measured up to 40 feet (12 meters) in length.
“The skull bone of Sauroniops is very broad and particularly thick: This suggests an animal as big as Tyrannosaurus [rex],” Cau said. But without more fossils, “a more precise estimation of its size is currently impossible,” the paleontologist added.
Read more: New “Sauron” Dinosaur Found, Was Big as T. Rex.
It is good to be reminded that we know of only a tiny fraction of species that ever existed because the conditions to make a fossil are very rare. Most animal remains decompose completely and bones are scattered by other animals then broken and crushed to dust by the elements over time.