This Newly Discovered Creature Owes Its Name To HP

In case you needed a bit of silly news to brighten your day, this sallow crab is named for two Harry Potter characters, but no, Vincent Crabbe is not one of them. First discovered in 1998 by the late Harry Conley in a bed of dead coral in Guam, the Harryplax severus finally has a name.

Harryplax severus is a tiny crab, measuring 0.3 by 0.2 inches. It lives in its very own cupboard under the stairs, deeply embedded in coral rubble. National Geographic notes that the "milky-yellow creature" has "the shrunken, immobile eyes and pale coloration characteristic of living in murky habitats."

Following his death, Conley's specimens passed to Gustav Paulay, who was then associated with the University of Guam, but is now "a curator of marine malacology at the Florida Museum of Natural History," according to LiveScience. From Paulay, the collection passed to Peter K.L. Ng, who studied Conley's work and published findings along with Jose Christopher E. Mendoza. Both Ng and Mendoza are from the National University of Singapore.

Regarding the significance of the Harryplax severus' name, Mendoza and Ng write:

The new genus is named primarily in honor of the intrepid field collector, the late Harry T. Conley, who collected many interesting crustaceans in the rubble beds of Guam, including the species presently being described. The name is also an allusion to a famous namesake, Harry Potter, the magical hero of the popular book series by J.K. Rowling, and Mr. Conley’s uncanny ability to collect rare and interesting creatures as if by magic. The name is an arbitrary combination of “Harry” and the suffix “-plax”. Gender feminine.


The specific epithet, severus (L., harsh, rough, rigorous), alludes to the rigorous and laborious process by which this crab was collected. It is also an allusion to a notorious and misunderstood character in the Harry Potter novels, Professor Severus Snape, for his ability to keep one of the most important secrets in the story, just like the present new species which has eluded discovery until now, nearly 20 years after it was first collected. The name is used here as a noun in apposition.

Harryplax severus, you were named for two of the finest wizards the world has ever known.