Stephen Colbert Lectures Scientists on 'Lord of the Rings' - Rolling Stone
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Stephen Colbert Lectures Scientists on ‘Lord of the Rings’

‘Late Show’ host takes umbrage after new species of spider is named after Smeagol instead of Gollum

Scientists in Brazil recently unearthed a new species of spider that they named the “Iandumoema smeagol,” a nod to Smeagol, one of the characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. However, as Stephen Colbert noted on Friday’s Late Show, while these scientists might know a lot about arachnids, they have much to learn about Middle Earth.

Colbert, a Tolkien obsessive, took umbrage with the scientists’ decision and launched into a long lecture about why naming a spider after Smeagol is foolish. “They named it Smeagol because it’s scary-looking and lives in caves. Okay, that’s cute. Got two problems with this,” Colbert told his audience before quickly reciting the history of Smeagol, “a kind of friendly Hobbit-like creature” who eventually morphs into Gollum, who is scary-looking and lives in caves. “You should have named the spider Gollum. You don’t discover a venomous snake and name it Anakin; you name it Darth Vader.”

Colbert’s second point is that, if you’re going to name a spider after a Lord of the Rings character, then why not name it after the character that is a spider: Shelob. “The last offspring of Ungoliant, whose poison killed the Two Trees and who consumes light and vomits darkness. You know … spiders,” the host said, schooling the experts. “I thought you guys were scientists. This is sad.”


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