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Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat Inspires the Name of a New Spider Species

Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat Inspires the Name of a New Spider Species

When Harry and Ron listened to Hagrid’s advice to “follow the spiders” in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they found themselves at the center of an arachnophobic nightmare as the Acromantula Aragog and its brood descended upon the young wizards. As terrifying as that must have been, spiders in the real world are much more interesting and unique than they are dangerous and deadly. Case in point, a new species of spider described by Javed Ahmed, Rajashree Khalap, and Sumukha J. N. dubbed Eriovixia gryffindori after Harry Potter lore due to its resemblance to the famous Sorting Hat.

E. gryffindori doesn’t dwell in the Forbidden Forest; this “new species of cryptic, dry-foliage mimicking araneid” was found in the “unique ‘Kans’ forestlands of central Western Ghats, Karnataka, India,” as the paper published in the Indian Journal of Arachnology describes. Here’s the delightful etymology behind its unique name:

This uniquely shaped spider derives its name from the fabulous, sentient magical artifact, the sorting hat, owned by the (fictitious) medieval wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and stemming from the powerful imagination of Ms. J. K. Rowling, wordsmith extraordinaire, as presented in her beloved series of books, featuring everyone’s favorite boy-wizard, Harry Potter. An ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives.

Check out how Ahmed broke the news to author J.K. Rowling over social media:

As cool as this critter and its newly given name are, the physical and behavioral traits behind its appearance are even more so. Members of this genus “are characterized by possessing a pilose carapace, sub-triangular abdomen, tapering posteriorly with or without a caudal appendage,” in other words, a nearly triangular shell covered in long, soft hairs that may or may not end in a tail-like structure. These nocturnal spiders “[take] refuge in, and [mimic] dried foliage, during daylight hours,” presumably to hide from predators.

Now that E. gryffindori is sorted, what’s your favorite cinematic spider? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Javed Ahmed (@curiocritters)

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