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New Crab Genus, Species Named After 'Harry Potter' Character -- Find Out Who!

Jan 24, 2017 11:00 AM EST

As a self-proclaimed "Potterhead," National University of Singapore's Dr. Jose Christopher E. Mendoza quickly grabbed the chance to name a newly discovered genus and species of crabs after two of the main characters of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.

The new crab genus and species, described in a paper published in the journal Zookeys, came from the personal collections ex-Marine turned researcher Harry Conley. Mr. Conley's collection contains many specimens taken from deep coral reef rubble on the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean. The personal collection of Mr. Conley was given to the second author of the present study, Dr. Peter Ng, of the National University of Singapore. Upon a closer look at the specimens, Dr. Peter Ng and Dr. Mendoza found that the specimen does not only represent a new species but a new genus as well.

The two agreed to name the new genus as Harryplax, in honor of the original collector of the crab specimen Mr. Conley. In a press release, the researchers described Mr. Conley as a "soft-spoken ex-Marine with a steely determination and a heart of gold," and whose endeavors "have substantially advanced the cause of marine science."

The genus Harryplax also came from the main character of the hit book and movie Harry Potter. Dr. Mendoza likened the magical abilities of Harry Potter to Harry Conley's knack for finding rare and new species.

For the name of the new species, Dr. Mendoza decided to draw inspiration to another Harry Potter character, Professor Severus Snape. Dr. Mendoza noted that Prof. Snape keeps his background and agenda mysteriously at the very end despite being one of the central characters of the stories. Thus, making him just like the new species that eluded discovery 20 years after it was first collected.

The Harryplax severus measures less than a centimeter in both length and width. It can only be found deep in coral rubble or under subtidal rocks. Presently known only to Guam, the H. severus has evolved with reduced eyes, well-developed antennae and long, slender legs.

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