11 Jun 2024, 17:54

New veggie piranha-like species named after Tolkien villain

LONDON, June 11, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - A new vegetarian piranha-like species

discovered by scientists in the Brazilian Amazon has been named Sauron after
the Lord of the Rings villain, Britain's Natural History Museum said on

Scientists formally described and named the "Myloplus sauron" because its
round body and distinctive orange and black markings closely resemble the
infamous evil eye of author JRR Tolkien's fictional character.

The new species, one of two recently named by scientists as part of an effort
to better understand fish biodiversity in the Amazon River, has human-like
teeth to suit its plant-based diet.

Although closely related to piranhas, it is better known as a "pacu" -- the
common name usually used for the piranha's vegetarian relatives.

The study, published in the journal Neotropical Ichthyology on Monday, sought
to shed light on Amazonian piranhas and their relatives, which are renowned
for being difficult to tell apart as they change appearance throughout their

Rupert Collins, lead author and senior curator in charge of fish at the
London museum, helped to describe the species.

"As soon as my colleagues suggested the name for this fish, we knew it was
perfect for it," he said.

"It looks just like the Eye of Sauron, especially with the red fins and
orange patches on its body."

Myloplus sauron are found only in the Xingu River Basin, a Brazilian
tributary of the Amazon containing more than 600 fish species, including over
70 found nowhere else in the world.

As many as 42 percent of the fish found in the Amazon River are thought to
remain unknown to science.


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