Photo by Jose C. E. Mendoza

Researchers give tiny crab a magical ‘Harry Potter’ name

There's a new magical beast in the world.


Sarah Weber

Internet Culture

Published Jan 26, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 3:12 am CDT

There are few things we love more than nerdy scientists naming newly discovered creatures after Harry Potter characters. 

There’s the Sorting Hat spider, the “soul-sucking” Dementor wasp, and now scientists are adding a crab to Harry Potter-themed zoology. 

Researchers Jose C.E. Mendoza and Peter K.L. Ng from the National University of Singapore published a paper this week in the journal ZooKeys describing a tiny (.03 by .02 inches) species of coral-rubble-dwelling crab from the island of Guam in the western Pacific. Its name? Harryplax severus.

While it’s true the genus is a nod to Harry Potter, it also honors the late researcher and field collector Harry T. Conley for his “uncanny ability to collect rare and interesting creatures as if by magic,” the researchers wrote. Conley first discovered the crab back in 1998, but it wasn’t until now that scientists designated it a new genus and species. 

Fans will notice another Harry Potter reference in the species part of the crab’s name. “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 has eluded discovery until now, nearly 20 years after it was first collected,” the paper states.

J.K. Rowling may be the creator of Fantastic Beasts and the world of Harry Potter, but Potter-head scientists are doing their part to make our world just as magical. 

H/T Livescience

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*First Published: Jan 26, 2017, 4:34 pm CST