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Hairy shrimp named after obvious Lord of the Rings character

Hint: It's a hobbit.

Hairy legs inspired the Middle-earth name.
Charles Fransen

Werner de Gier, a biology student at Leiden University, and shrimp expert Charles Fransen were faced with the prospect of naming a newly discovered shrimp with hairy legs. They did what any self-respecting scientists would do and named it after Bilbo Baggins, the hairy-footed hobbit from The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series. 

Researchers found the shrimp, now named Odontonia bagginsi, during a 2009 expedition to islands in East Indonesia. The minuscule shrimp measures a fraction of an inch (under a centimeter). It was one of two new shrimp species discovered during the trip. 

The researchers published their descriptions of the tiny critters in the journal Zookeys this week and released a digital illustration that gives us a better view of its features. Please note the hairy legs.

A digital illustration of the tiny Odontonia bagginsi shrimp.

Franz Anthony

"It was a great honor to draw, describe and name two entirely new species. Hopefully people now see that there are still many new species to discover, if you look carefully," said De Gier.

Lord of the Rings references have appeared in the naming of other species, including the cave-dwelling arachnid Iandumoema smeagol and a golden lizard named after the dragon Smaug.