A New Species: Harry Potter and the Crab King

No, the title of this post doesn’t refer to a piece of Harry Potter fan fiction about the dangers of overfishing. Instead it references the naming of a newly identified species of crab, Harryplax severus.


Harryplax severus is the wondrous, pale creature pictured above. He and his brethren come from the mud at the edges of the coasts of the island of Guam. Contrary to what the name suggests, the Harryplax portion (the genus) does not originate from the Harry Potter series but rather stems from the name of Harry Conley, the man who discovered the crab. The species, however, does come from Harry Potter. Biologists chose the name severus as a reference to Severus Snape, the mysterious and grumpy potions master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Researchers Jose Mendoza and Peter Ng wrote in Zoekeys that the name fits because of “the laborious process by which this crab was collected…[along with its] ability to keep one of the most important secrets in the story.” And, of course, Harryplax severus was able to keep the secret of its own existence for a very long time.

This lovely little crab isn’t the first creature that scientists have named after something from Harry Potter. There is the spider Eriovixia gryffindori, named after Godric Gryffindor, and the dinosaur Dracorex hogwartsia, named after the school of Wizardry itself.

Harryplax severus is a small reminder that fiction doesn’t always stay entirely fictional. Sometimes it bleeds into the real world. And we are better for it.



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