A Magical Discovery: Introducing the ‘Sorting Hat’ Spider

Javed Ahmed et. al / Warner Bros.
Javed Ahmed et. al / Warner Bros. / Javed Ahmed et. al / Warner Bros.

Three wizard-loving scientists have named a small, conical spider species after the legendary owner of Hogwarts’ Sorting Hat. They described the fantastic new beast in the Indian Journal of Arachnology [PDF].

The team discovered the orb-weaving spider in the forests of India’s Western Ghats. Like other members of the genus Eriovixia, the new species is petite (this one maxes out at about 0.3 inches) and covered with tiny hairs. Its unusual body is patterned and shaped to resemble a curled leaf—or a ragged, but very important, hat.

Sorting Hat spider hiding on a leaf. Image Credit: Javed Ahmed et. al

Inspired by the resemblance, the researchers named their discovery Eriovixia gryffindori for Godric Gryffindor, who donated the Sorting Hat to Hogwarts at its founding in the year 990. The species name is “an ode,” the authors write, “for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives.”

The team confirmed E. gryffindori’s status as a new species by comparing a female specimen’s genitals with those of existing orb-weaver species. Sure enough, the Sorting Hat’s gonads were unlike any they’d seen before.

The gleeful researchers shared their find on Twitter with Potter creator J.K. Rowling, who said she was “truly honored” by the new “fantastic beast.”

[h/t Live Science]