New Spider Species Is Named After 'Harry Potter' Sorting Hat

A feature used for camouflage by a newly discovered arachnid puts researchers in mind of a fictional favorite.

A new spider species in India has been given a name that's sure to be a winner with Harry Potter fans.

The spider, Eriovixia gryffindori, just 7 millimeters (0.28 inches) long, was named as such because its shape reminded its discoverers of the magical "sorting hat" in the Harry Potter books. (When placed upon a new Hogwarts student's head, the hat comes to life and determines which house the student should belong to at the school for young wizards. It was originally owned by the wizard Godric Gryffindor.)

Mumbai researchers discovered the spider in the Kan forest of the Western Ghats, a mountainous region in southwest India. According to the scientists, the hat shape helps the spider blend in with dried leaves during daylight hours in order to protect itself from predators.

In a paper published in the Indian Journal of Arachnology, Mumbai researchers who discovered the new arachnid wrote that its name was "an ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives."

"As a youngster, I was very fond of reading Harry Potter books. So, when I encountered this tiny spider, I thought of the magical hat," lead author of the study, Javed Ahmed, told the Times of India.

Ahmed was also involved in the discovery in 2015 of a rare jumping spider called Portia albimana, an arachnid known for its hunting prowess, even tracking other spiders that are every bit as capable as hunters.

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