Stephen Colbert thinks scientists named that new spider after the wrong LOTR character
You’re on notice, science! Stephen Colbert, continuing to use his media presence to spread nerd culture throughout the world, gave us an epic rant last night that’s sure to make your hobbit heart beat faster (especially if you’re afraid of spiders).
On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Lord of the Rings superfan took issue with a Brazilian team of scientists who named a new species of cave-dwelling, eyeless spider Iandumoema smeagol.
As any fans of LOTR will instantly notice, the name honors Smeagol, the character in the books who was corrupted by the One Ring and devolved into the creature Gollum over centuries. And that’s where Colbert has a serious problem.
Smeagol, he points out, was a riverside-dwelling hobbit-like creature who loved the good life. In fact, in the books and films, Frodo helps draw out aspects of this more pleasant personality by referring to Gollum by his former name. Gollum, on the other hand, is the dark, twisted, cave-dwelling version of the character, destroyed by the Ring. Why on earth wouldn’t you name the pale, eyeless, creepy creature after that?
Not content to stop there, Colbert then takes us deeper into Tolkien-lore, explaining that researchers messed up by not using the name of either of the two actual terrifying cave-dwelling spiders in the book. Movie fans will of course recognize Shelob, the huge-ass spider whom Frodo and Sam battle on the road to Mordor.
Where Colbert sets himself apart from the casual LOTR fan is by mentioning Ungoliant, who spawned Shelob. This ultimate dark spider is found in The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s lesser known book of mythology about the beginning of Middle Earth. Ungoliant is a key player in a huge myth that leads to the creation of the Sun and Moon over Middle Earth; in league with Morgoth, the ultimate enemy, Ungoliant destroyed the two trees used to light Middle Earth (and this was after Morgoth extinguished the two lamps originally used for that purpose; trust us, it’s a really long myth.)
Ungoliant is about as badass as a spider can get, eating the light of the world and all, but we have to respectfully disagree with Colbert. While andumoema smeagol should probably be named after poor, muddled Gollum, Ungoliant and Shelob are a bit overboard, considering this new spider is a breed of daddy long-legs. Let’s save the ultimate-darkness-in-spider-form-name just in case something more fearful than an unwelcome critter in the shower shows up.
Check out Colbert’s fanboy takedown below:
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(Image via CBS)