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New crab species named after Harry Potter characters

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Singapore: Potterheads, take note! An underwater crab species has been named after Harry Potter and Severus Snape – characters from the British writer J K Rowling’s popular fantasy novel series.

The new species and genus of crab, Harryplax severus, also honours researcher Harry Conley, who had collected the crab specimen about two decades ago.

Having dug as deep as 30 metres into coral reef rubble in the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean, Conley collected many specimens.


Among the lot, were two unusual specimens which were not studied until much later. Only recently, researchers from the National University of Singapore discovered that they represent not only a new species, but also a new genus.

Having chosen the name Harryplax for the new genus, researchers paid tribute to Conley.

The name is also meant to allude to the main protagonist in Rowling’s famous fantasy novel series, whose magical abilities the scientists liken to Conley’s knack for finding rare or new species.       The crab’s species name, severus, is inspired by another character from the wizarding world – Professor Severus Snape, who despite being a central character in the series, keeps his background and agenda mysterious until the very end.

Showing his real identity, the character is “just like the present new species which has eluded discovery until now, nearly 20 years after it was first collected,” researchers said.

The new species is a tiny crab measuring less than a centimeter in both length and width and can be found deep in coral rubble or under subtidal rocks, perhaps also in cavities.

To survive in the dark depths, the species has evolved with reduced eyes, well developed antennae, and long, slender legs. For the time being it is known only from the island of Guam.