Real-Life Fantastic Beast #14: Introducing Macrobiotus naginae.

As longtime readers know, one of my regular Wizarding world talks is on newly discovered species named for Harry Potter characters. The last time I spoke about this publicly was at 2020’s online Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, when the count was 12:  1 dinosaur, 1 extinct lizard, 1 crab, 1 snake, 2 stink bugs, 2 wasps, and 4 spiders. Since then, one more “potter wasp” was added to the collection in 2021.  At the end of 2022, however, a 14th animal joined the menagerie:  the Finnish tardigrade, Macrobiotus naginae.

This microscopic critter is by far the smallest of the collection so far, as well on of the more interesting. Tardigrades are tiny, but among the hardiest of animals on our planet, capable of surviving extremes of temperature, pressure, drought, starvation and even the vacuum conditions of space. As for the name, like the stink-bug Graphorn bicornutus, draws inspiration from the Fantastic Beasts films rather than the book series proper. As stated in the scientific paper describing the discovery:

Etymology: Named after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series character Nagini –Lord Voldemort’s treasured snake companion. Formerly a cursed woman who is ultimately and irreversibly transformed into a limbless beast, this fictional character provides a fitting name for the new species in the pseudohufelandi complex, which in turn is characterized by reduced legs and claws.

You can read more about these Wizarding World inspirations here and here.

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