The discovery of a new animal species is always a pretty cool feat, but this time, it's a magical one, too: A recently classified species of crab has been named in part after two significant "Harry Potter" characters.
An article in the journal ZooKeys outlines the discovery and naming of the Harryplax severus, a new genus and species of crab that was collected close to 20 years ago by the late researcher Harry Conley in the Pacific Ocean off of the coast of Guam. The sample sat untouched for nearly two decades, however, until it was eventually passed along to researchers Peter Ng and Jose Christopher E. Mendoza, who co-authored the ZooKeys study.
Wanting to honor Conley -- who the authors dubbed "A soft-spoken ex-Marine with a steely determination and a heart of gold, [whose] endeavours have substantially advanced the cause of marine science" -- while also sneaking in a reference to Mendoza's favorite literary character, the pair came up with a brilliant combination. Here's how they explained their naming methodology for the genus and species in the study:
The new genus is named primarily in honor of the intrepid field collector, the late Harry T. Conley, who collected many interesting crustaceans in the rubble beds of Guam, including the species presently being described. The name is also an allusion to a famous namesake, Harry Potter, the magical hero of the popular book series by J.K. Rowling, and Mr. Conley's uncanny ability to collect rare and interesting creatures as if by magic. ...
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.
The Harryplax severus is a tiny wonder, measuring just 0.3 by 0.2 inches, and is characterized by small eyes, well-developed antennae, and long, slender legs. Now we're just waiting for a species of spider to be named after Ron and Hagrid.