New Fantastic “Beast” is Potter Namesake

Jan 25, 2017

Posted by: Kim McChesney

Contests, Education, Fantastic Beasts, News, Science

Recently Leaky reported on a new species of spider discovered in India that bore a striking resemblance to the Hogwarts Sorting Hat and was appropriately named “Eriovixia gryffindor”. Now researchers at the University of Singapore have found a tiny crab they have dubbed “Harryplax severus”. Yes, both the newly identified genus and species of this miniscule crustacean bear the names of two of Potter fans’ favorite characters.

New crab species shares name with 2 'Harry Potter' characters and a hero researcher

The crabs were actually dug from coral reef off the Island of Guam almost 20 years ago by a researcher and ex-Marine named Harry Conley. The specimens changed hands over the years and landed with two scientists at the University of Singapore, Dr. Peter Ng and Dr. Jose Christopher E. Mendoza, the later of which admits he is an avid fan of Harry Potter.

In naming the genus, Ng and Mendoza wanted to pay homage to the man who uncovered these 8 by 3 millimeter creatures, so “Harry” seemed a fitting moniker. They also likened Conley’s flair for finding rare or new species to the magical abilities possessed by “The Boy Who Lived”. Their description of Conley is also reminiscent of the boy wizard:

“a steely determination and a heart of gold”

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As any Potter fan knows, the crabs’ species name, “severus” comes from Potter anti-hero Professor Severus Snape. Researchers wrote the following about the designation in the study:

“The name is Latin for harsh, rough and rigorous which alludes to the rigorous and laborious process by which the crab was collected, but it is also an allusion to a notorious and misunderstood character in the Harry Potter novels, Professor Severus Snape, for his ability to keep one of the most important secrets in the story, just like the present new species, which eluded discovery until now, nearly 20 years after it was first collected.”

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Just by virtue of its namesakes, this Lilliputian of the sea should be deemed a “Fantastic Beast”!

If you are interested in entering Leaky’s “Newtcase” giveaway contest and creating your own Fantastic Beast click here for all the details.

The complete “Harryplax severus” research study, in the journal Zookeys, can be found here.

Click here for the December 2016 Leaky story on the Sorting Hat spider and good luck hatching your creature—Accio Beast!

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.