- The spider was collected from a small sacred grove — patches of forests preserved ancestrally by local communities — in Shivamogga district in the southern state of Karnataka, India.
- As fans of the Harry Potter franchise, the researchers chose to name the spider Eriovixia gryffindori after the magical sorting hat, owned by Godric Gryffindor.
- The tiny spider is an excellent mimic, and is adept at resembling dried foliage.
Scientists have discovered yet another “fantastic beast”.
In a forest in central Western Ghats, India, researchers Javed Ahmed, Rajashree Khalap and wildlife photographer Sumukha J.N. have found a new species of spider that looks like the magical sorting hat from the popular Harry Potter series.
The spider was collected from a small sacred grove — patches of forests preserved ancestrally by local communities — in Shivamogga district in the southern state of Karnataka where it was lurking among some dried leaves, the researchers report in a new study published in the Indian Journal of Arachnology.
“When we first came across the spider, we did think it bore an uncanny resemblance to the sorting hat from Ms. Rowling’s books and films,” lead author Ahmed, an independent researcher, told Mongabay. “But we had absolutely no idea that it was a new species until much later, when I dissected the spider, and examined and compared its genitalia with those of closely related, existing species.”
As fans of the Harry Potter franchise, Ahmed and his team chose to name the spider Eriovixia gryffindori after the magical sorting hat, owned by Godric Gryffindor, one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The tiny spider is an excellent mimic, and is adept at resembling dried foliage.
“The most interesting aspect of this particular species is its ability to make itself disappear amongst dry foliage, much like Harry Potter does when using the invisibility cloak,” Ahmed said. “The camouflage is so brilliant that it becomes almost impossible to discern the spider from dries leaves.”
In fact, photographing the spider was a big challenge, Sumukha told Mongabay. “It was extremely difficult to focus, when the spider was on the dry leaf because of its extremely good camouflage and tiny size and sometimes it would shift its place,” he said.
Co-researcher Khalap agreed that the spider’s ability to camouflage is its most exciting feature because it “beautifully illustrates evolution — an organism so perfectly adapted to remain completely hidden in its environment.”
The hat-like spider is presently known only from Shivamogga district in Karnataka. The conservation status of the new species is also currently unknown, Ahmed said, given that it has only just been described.
On Twitter, author J.K. Rowling wrote that she was “honoured” that the new species was named after a Harry Potter character.