New 'Harry Potter' crab species casts a spell
Mary Beth Griggs
at 09:44 AM Jan 25 2017
New 'Harry Potter' crab species casts a spell
Harryplax severus
Jose C. E. Mendoza
Nature // 

There's a new crab in town, and it's no muggle. A paper published Monday in ZooKeys described the recently identified crab Harryplax severus, named after two Harry Potter characters.

At just one centimeter wide by a centimeter long, this magical crustacean is too small to grace your plate at a seafood feast. It lives near the coast of Guam, lurking in dark pockets deep under fragments of old coral reefs. It has evolved for these dark conditions, with unusually small, immobile eyes. The crab has longer antennae to make up for its limited sight, and slender legs that help it scurry around its environment.

Though the crab has nothing to do with the Harry Potter universe, one of the lead authors of the ZooKeys paper, Jose C. E. Mendoza, is a huge fan, and wanted to name the crab after some of his favorite books. The first part of the name—Harryplax—refers to both Harry Potter and researcher Harry Conley, who collected the first specimens of the crab on Guam over 20 years ago.

The second part of the name—severus—also serves double duty, the researchers explain in the paper (which might be one of the few pieces of scientific literature to need a spoiler alert):

The specific epithet, severus (L., harsh, rough, rigorous), alludes to the rigorous and laborious process by which this crab was collected. 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.

Yeah, it's a stretch, but it's still cute.

This isn't the first animal to be named for Harry Potter lore. A dinosaur species was named after Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry that Harry Potter attended. Last year, biologists in India found a spider that bore a striking resemblance to the sorting hat.

And back in 2014, a wasp in Thailand was named after dementors, the soul-sucking prison guards in J.K. Rowling's books. Unlike the fictional character, the wasp doesn't suck all happiness out of a room—but it does immobilize its victims before it eats them.

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