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Gryffindor! New Spider Species Named After the 'Sorting Hat'

By Nathaniel Scharping
Dec 15, 2016 10:54 PMNov 20, 2019 12:03 AM


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Eriovixia gryffindori measures just a quarter inch in length. When it came time to name a new species of spider found in India, there wasn't much deliberation. The nocturnal arachnid, found in India's Western Ghat mountain range, looks so much like the Sorting Hat it's tempting to wonder where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration from. Indian researchers discovered the spider, which they named Eriovixia gryffindori, in 2015, and named it after Godric Gryffindor, the one-time owner of the hat in the Harry Potter books. No word yet on whether it was discovered sitting atop someone's head.

The hat that inspired a new species name. It turns out that the spider's unique body shape also serves a utilitarian purpose: the hat-shaped structure helps it blend into the dead leaves where it makes its home to hide from predators. The researchers found only a single female of the species, so we don't yet know if males share the unusual similarity to wizarding headgear. After the discovery was formally published in the Indian Journal of Arachnology this month, the lead author, Javed Ahmed, reached out to Rowling on Twitter to share the good news.

.@curiocritters I'm truly honoured! Congratulations on discovering another #FantasticBeast! ??✨pic.twitter.com/NJ4Fe27F1r

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 11, 2016

The spider joins a few other species named in honor of characters and creatures from the series. There's Clevosaurus sectumsemper

, a species of sharp-toothed ancient lizard named for a vicious cutting spell, Dracorex hogwartsia

, a dinosaur that bears an apparent similarity to the dragons in the books, Thestral incognitus

, a hard-to-find stinkbug that shares the invisible skeletal horses' bony structure and 

Ampulex dementor

a species of wasp that "sucks out the soul" of the cockroaches it lays its eggs inside. The sorting hat spider may take the crown for the most spot-on recreation of Harry Potter memorabilia, though. Just don't try putting one on your head.

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