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New bug is named after Tolkien’s dragon

Adding to an already impressive list of animals named after concepts in Tolkien’s works, a recently-discovered bug in Patagonia is to be named ”planois smaug”.

The Chilean bug, a member of the shield bug family, was discovered by Mariom Carvajal, Eduardo Faúndez and Dr David Rider from North Dakota State University. Mariom, an undergraduate student in microbiology, had the honour of naming the discovery:

We called it Planois smaug because the specimens of this new species were ‘sleeping’ in collections for about 60 years, like Tolkiens’s creature. Another factor that contributed to the choosing of this particular name was the large size of the bug. Smaug was also very big, and this bug is the largest of its family in the southern tip of South America. Finally, the place it inhabits — the Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve on Navarino Island — resembles Tolkien’s Middle Earth. [sic]

Original story: Entomology Today. Photo: Eduardo Faúndez.

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 3,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter. He chaired another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.