The 8 Best 'Lord Of The Rings' Animals And Their Real-Life Twins

<p> <a class="checked-link" href="">James Woolley/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</a><span></span> </p>
<p> <a class="checked-link" href="">James Woolley/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</a><span></span> </p>

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," the final installment of Peter Jackson's beautiful-if-bloated take on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, comes out Wednesday. Though most of Tolkien's tales concern furry hobbits, sexy elves and boring humans duking it out with unsexy forces of evil, the author didn't neglect to flesh out his universe with animals, too. In that spirit, here are the top eight critters of Middle-earth, according to the only person at The Dodo who has been LARPing. Also, with apologies to the moth that saves the wizard Gandalf, these are all animals who made an appearance in the books as well as the films.

8. Giant eagles(Credit: Giphy)

Real-life critter equivalent: a really big golden eagle
Noble and intelligent, the giant eagles rescued Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, the intrepid hobbit heroes of "The Lord of The Rings," at the foot of Mount Doom. The birds sort of missed a trick by not carrying Frodo and Sam to Mordor in the first place - though, like real golden eagles, perhaps they were too busy defending their young from bears. Golden eagles are so strong, in fact, that they're known to hunt reindeer, young cattle and even wolves.

7. Fell beasts(Credit: Giphy)

Real-life critter equivalent: a pterodactyl combined with a vulture
These flying critters were tough customers who ruled the airways of Middle-earth. (For giant eagle fans, they're the perfect reason for why Sam and Frodo couldn't have flown into Mordor.) From Tolkien's description:

It was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank.

Vultures stink, too, on account of all the carrion they eat. But they're also a valuable cleanup service for a messy natural world.

6. Shelob(Credit: tumblr)

Real-life critter equivalent: a really big spider
The orcs who lived near this spider's lair called her "Shelob the Great" and "Her Ladyship," because Shelob was gigantic and voracious. At a foot long, the largest real-life spider is the Goliath birdeater tarantula, who, despite his name, doesn't often consume birds.

5. Wargs(Credit: Giphy)

Real-life critter equivalent: a really big wolf
Middle-earth's take on the wolf (if wolves grew to the size of cows), wargs were to goblins what mustangs are to cowboys. While trying to mount a real wolf is maybe not a great idea, wolves do carry a bit of weight on their backs, so to speak, as apex predators. Wolves play a complex, and at times crucial, role in ecosystems, and scientists and conservationists are still learning about the extent of wolves' impact on forests.

4. The Watcher in the Water(Credit:YouTube)

Real-life critter equivalent: a really big octopus
The Watcher in the Water, a betentacled fellow who lives in a dark pool by the Mines of Moria, gets a bad rap as being "evil," but he was probably just hungry when he tried to turn the hobbits into a snack. Octopuses are the Hannibal Lectors of the sea - charming, super smart and occasionally cannibals.

3. Smaug(Credit: Giphy)

Real-life critter equivalent: a really big crocodile plus a bat plus Benedict Cumberbatch
The dragon Smaug, the villain at the end of "The Hobbit," has a lot going for him - the molten breath, the lair full of gold, the rumbly baritone voice. His story doesn't end well, sure, but he never had to worry about fungus, which is killing off huge numbers of bats, or poaching, which is claiming crocodiles for their hide.

2. Shadowfax(Credit: Giphy)

Real-life critter equivalent: a horse
Descendant of Felaróf and Gandalf's steed, the white horse Shadowfax stared down the pterodactyl-vulture beasts (see no. 7) and could outrace the wind. Though Earth's horses aren't about to beat out a tropical cyclone, the fastest horse was clocked at a blistering 44 mph.

1. Mûmakil(Credit: tumblr)

Real-life critter equivalent: an elephant
Mûmakil, also called oliphaunts, were great hulking critters who hailed from the forests of Far Harad. Like elephants, mûmakil had tusks, trunks and giant ears. And, like elephants, they are the best.