Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A spider named for a sorting hat

The world has at least 35,000 known species of spiders, with some sources putting it all the way up to 43,000 or even 50,000 (zoological counting is not the exact science you'd think it is: scientists can have varying opinions on what descriptions are valid, which are duplicates, which can't be verified, etc.).    There is no question many more remain to be found: no one would be shocked if a (currently unaffordable) complete census of every spider living somewhere on the planet topped 100,000.
Some of those spiders are downright weird. Whether it's catching birds or ballooning on silk threads or locomoting underwater, spiders are an adaptable bunch. Many species use some kind of camouflage. Now a newly discovered species from India which seeks to imitate a dead leaf has received a unique name. The disguise involved a cone-shaped body that looks a little like rolled-up dried leaf and nothing like a spider. It does, however, look like a certain famous magical hat.  And so we have the Harry Potter Sorting Hat spider, Eriovixia gryffindori.   J.K. Rowling has tweeted that she's honored.

"50 points for Gryffindor!"

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