Named By: Andrea Cau, Marco Dalla Vecchia and Matteo Fabbri - 2012.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Theropoda, Carcharodontosauridae.
Species: S. pachytholus (type).
Size: Preserved portion of the holotype skull 20 centimetres long.
Known locations: Morocco - Kem Kem Beds.
Time period: Cenomanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Partial skull fragment from just above the eye socket.
Bought from a Moroccan fossil dealer, the only known fossil of Sauroniops is of the upper eye socket. This material however is unlike any other known theropod of the time and location, and displays enlargement of the bone growth, something that may have been the underlying support for eye crest displays in the living dinosaur. Since the describers only had an eye bone to describe the new genus, they decided to take inspiration from the ‘eye of Sauron’, the flaming eye atop a tower which is the main representation of Sauron, the principal villain in the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books (and subsequent films). However, rather than stomping around Mordor, Sauroniops lived in North Africa at a time where it may have come into contact with other large theropod dinosaurs such as Deltadromeus and Spinosaurus, as well as what appears to be its closer relative Carcharodontosaurus, the type genus of the Carcharodontosauridae. The exact size of Sauroniops is impossible to establish with absolute certainty, but it was in all likelihood a large theropod dinosaur. This idea is based upon the comparison of the Sauroniops bone fragment with other more complete relatives, as well as the simple facts that some of its relatives such as Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus rank among some of the largest known theropods.
-Evidence of a new carcharodontosaurid from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco, Andrea Cau, Marco Dalla Vecchia and Matteo Fabbri - 2012.
-A thick-skulled theropod (Dinosauria, Saurischia) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco with implications for carcharodontosaurid cranial evolution, Andrea Cau, Marco Dalla Vecchia and Matteo Fabbri - 2012.