Do they mean to say that Smeagol, the wretched creature from Lord of the Rings, is now wrecking more havoc on the world? Has science gone mad or has Mother Nature had a nervous breakdown? Cryptozoology lovers will want to know!
Since time immemorial this strange little creature has been lurking in a remote limestone cave, deep in southeastern Brazil near Minas Gerais. The creature is pale, totally blind, and patiently lying in wait until its next victim crosses its path.
Scientists named the creature Iandumoema smeagol because it lurks in the darkness and is pale and seemingly alone in its world. But unlike the rogue Hobbit of JRR Tolkien’s world, this creature is actually a harvestmen, of the Arachnid order Opiliones.
You may know harvestmen as “daddy long legs,” those pesky bugs that live in all the dark secret places in our summer gardens every year. Science tells us that far from being spiders, harvestmen are actually more closely related to the Arachnid orders containing camel spiders (Soliguae) and scorpions (Scorpionida).
I. smeagol is pale yellow, having lost its pigmentation due to the complete lack of sunshine in its world (photo right). It has no eyes but manages to function well and survive the inky depths of its cave.
What does I. smeagol eat? According to an article for Virginia’s Fairfax County School System, they eat “aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, beetles, flies, mites, small slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, other harvestmen, decaying plant and animal matter, bird poop, fungus gills, and many types of other insects, both adult and larval forms.” Hmm, just as tasty as raw fish, I would imagine.
Scientists tell us that they live for about a year, until winter’s cold temperatures kill them. Most species of harvestmen lay their eggs in soil which hatch the following spring.
All Good News
I love this trend that we’re seeing in science, where fans of various fictional worlds are naming newly found species after creatures or people they love in these stories. Another scientist named a group of wasps after the Hobbits in LOTR – see the reference section below for that article.
What’s even more exciting is that scientists continue to uncover these strange and wonderful animals nearly every day! I look forward to the day when they find the big ones that we love to think about here in CryptoVille!
What would you name a new species?