Lord of the Rings villain Sauron names new butterfly species | Science and technology news


Lord of the Rings villain Sauron has become the namesake of a new group of butterflies chosen by scientists to draw attention to their beauty.

Saurona was chosen as the butterfly generic name thanks to the black rings on its bright orange wings, reminiscent of the all-seeing eye described in JRR Tolkien’s books, and subsequently in the Lord of the Rings Movies and TV series.

The Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Image: New Line Cinema

There are currently only two members of this new group – Saurona triangula and Saurona aurigera – but many more undescribed species are thought to exist.

Saurona is one of several new groups of butterflies described by an international team of researchers in a new article, and one of two identified by Dr. Blanca Huertas, senior curator of butterflies at the Natural History Museum.

dr Huertas and a colleague named the second genus Argenteria, which translates to English as silver mine, in reference to the silver scales on the flying insect’s wings.

dr Huertas said: “Naming a genus doesn’t happen very often, and naming two at once is even rarer.

“It was a great privilege to do this and now we can begin to describe new species that we discovered as a result of this research.”

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She added: “Giving these butterflies an unusual name helps draw attention to this underrated group. It shows that even in a group of very similar looking species, you can find beauty in the fade.”

Experts hope raising public interest will help find out more about the species, including whether it’s endemic or critically endangered in an area.

The results, published in a new paper, are the result of a decade of work by a team of 30 international scientists studying the butterfly subphylum Euptychiina.

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The global collaboration included researchers from the Natural History Museum London, Harvard University, the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig.

More than 400 different species were analyzed, with the Natural History Museum’s butterfly collections making a significant contribution with more than 5.5 million specimens.

Advances in DNA sequencing have allowed researchers to identify similar-looking species based not only on their appearance but also on their genetics.

The butterflies aren’t the first creatures to be named after Sauron – a dung beetle, a frog and a dinosaur already bear the villain’s nickname.

The results are published in the journal Systematic Entomology.

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