One Wing to Rule Them All: New Butterfly Species Named for Fantasy Villain

May 10, 2023

“The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Many fans of fantasy know the Eye of Sauron in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books. It is the image of one of literature’s greatest villains. The flaming eye on top of a tower of black rock is so terrifying that it has inspired games, songs, and movies.   

And now butterfly names. 

Two new butterflies have been discovered in the Amazon rainforest. They are called Saurona triangula and Saurona aurigera. The butterflies’ wings are brown, with orange at the bottom. They even have black eyespots like the character they are named after.    

The butterflies are not the first animals to be named after Sauron. There are frogs, a dung beetle, and a dinosaur who all are named after him. However, the butterflies' names are important for another reason.  

Habitat loss is putting butterflies in danger. It is important to find and name new species quickly, Blanca Huertas told the Guardian. She helped find the new species. She said that naming them after a famous character can help people care more about these insects and where they live.   

Photo from B. Huertas (c) Trustees National History Museum. 

Reflect: How can we help raise awareness about the preservation of endangered species and their ecosystems?

Which of the following environmental issues is highlighted in the conclusion of the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. butterfly names
b. habitat loss
c. the Amazon rainforest
d. fantasy villains
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