8 Fantastic animals of the real world and where to find them - The Comprehensive Minds

8 Fantastic animals of the real world and where to find them

8 Fantastic animals of the real world and where to find them

From a talking tarantula to a mole with fingers on its snout. Muggle is full of magical animals

Fantastic animals of the real world

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest film based on the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Newt Scamander, the greatest expert in the fauna of the magical world, has traveled the world studying and collecting magical animals of all shapes, sizes, and types; and then has to deal with the chaos they unleash when they escape captivity.

The beings in Scamander's magical suitcase - and Rowling's imagination - may seem impressive to us, but the Muggle world offers animals just as amazing.

From ancient snakes over 40 feet long to exploding beetles, here are just a few examples of what you can find in the wild.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real-Life Animal: Tarantulas (Family: Theraphosidae)

Distribution: Global (mainly in the central and southern parts of the world)

Size: 12 centimeters long; leg extension up to 28 centimeters

IUCN Classification: From species classified as Least Concern to others identified as Critically Endangered

 In the wizarding world, achromantulas are huge spiders whose real-world equivalent is tarantulas, a group of arachnids that includes more than 850 species. And the similarities between fact and fiction are amazing.

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Scamander describes achromantulas as huge black villus spiders, native to Borneo. And there certainly is a large black-villi spider native to the Sangihe Islands, eastern Borneo: Lampropelma nigerrimum, a tarantula first described in 1892. 

Also, like Aragog, the most fearsome achromantic in the book and film series of Harry Potter, Australian tarantulas can speak by rubbing their chelicerae - appendages that end in fangs - to emit a hiss.

However, none of these carnivorous spiders is the largest living tarantula in the world. This title corresponds to the Goliath tarantula (Theraphosa Blondi) from South America, which can measure up to 28 centimeters wide and preys on small birds, although it mainly feeds on arthropods. 

Yet no tarantula, living or fossil, has grown as large as the fictional achromantic, whose outstretched legs could reach a length of up to 4.6 meters.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real life animal: Titanoboa cerrejonensis

Distribution: Colombia, 60 million years ago

Size: 12.8 meters long

IUCN Classification: Fossil / Extinct

The basilisk, a colossal serpent with a crown-like crest and a supposedly withering gaze, has crawled through European mythology for centuries. 

And in a certain sense, basilisks exist in reality: they are the family of corytophanids (Corytophanidae), made up of lizards similar to iguanas, which are called basilisk. 

One of them is the common basilisk (Basiliscus), famous for being able to run on water. However, it is believed that the oldest legends about basilisks may have been inspired by cobras.

Now that, if you are looking for a huge snake, your best candidate could be Titanoboa cerrejonensis, a snake similar to anacondas that lived 60 million years ago in present-day Colombia. That 12.8-meter-long fossil reptile is the largest known snake, alive or dead, and weighed about 1,134 kilograms.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real-Life Animal: Blue Ant (Diamma bicolor)

Distribution: Australia

Size: Up to 2.5 centimeters long

IUCN classification: Not yet evaluated

In Fantastic Beasts, the billywig is a blue stinging insect native to Australia. In real life, this corresponds perfectly with the blue ant, an Australian insect that has nothing like an ant.

It is a flower wasp that parasitizes mole crickets. The female goads the crickets to paralyze them and then spawns on them, thus ensuring that their newly hatched larvae have fresh food. 

The interesting thing is that the adults feed eminently on nectar.

According to Newt Scamander, the billywig's sting is highly desirable, inducing momentary levitation and a feeling of euphoria. 

The sting of the blue ant is much less pleasant - the Australian Museum reports that those insects rarely sting, but when they do, they cause inflammation and a painful, burning sensation.


Fantastic animals of the real world

In the Harry Potter novels, the exploding-tailed skrewt is the result of a breeding experiment gone wrong: a crab-like animal that smells like rotten fish and attacks its enemies with explosions.

The Muggle world has an animal capable of similar pyrotechnics: the bombardier beetle. 

When threatened, this beetle emits a chemical spray that can reach a temperature of up to 100 degrees Celsius and fly towards the predator at a speed of up to 10 meters per second.

What's more, bombardier beetles possess a physiological prowess that surpasses exploding-tailed skrewts: rapid discharge. 

The beetles fire rapid pulses instead of throwing it all out in one go. The result? They expel between 300 and 1,000 spray discharges per second.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real-Life Animal: Stick Insect or Phasmid (Order: Phasmida)

Distribution: Global, especially in tropical and subtropical regions

Size: Up to 62.4 centimeters long

IUCN Classification: species that are classified from Least Concern to others identified as Critically Endangered

According to Scamander's description, bowtruckles are stick-shaped insects that protect the forests from which the wood for magic wands is obtained. 

And it seems that the insects of the order Phasmida are just those magical guardians, due to their ability to mimic an astonishing variety of leaves, twigs, sticks, and branches.

Around the world, there are around 3,000 species of phasmids, whose shapes, colors, and sizes vary dramatically: Timema cristinae is a stick insect native to North America and measures just 1.3 centimeters, while Phryganistria Chinensis, discovered in China in 2013, reaches an impressive length of 62.4 centimeters.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real-life animal: Dodo (Raphus cucullatus)

Distribution: only in Mauritius

Size: One meter high; 10 to 21 kilograms

IUCN Classification: Extinct

Fantastic Animals and Where to Find Them reports that the Muggle world knows the diricawl as the dodo, a flightless bird that used to live on the island of Mauritius. 

Based on Scamander's description, we can't see the dodo today because this bird can disappear at will when it senses danger. 

The truth is that the disappearance of the dodo is due to much sadder causes: habitat loss and the fact that predators introduced by man-caused its extinction in the late 17th century.

Current research on the Nicobar pigeon, the dodo's closest living relative, could do something akin to magic by allowing scientists to unravel details of the dodo's genome, which was sequenced in 2015. 

But you have no hope of bringing the dodo back: so far they have not been able to successfully clone a bird, so not to mention resurrecting an entire extinct species.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real-life animal: Dendrogramma

Distribution: Waters off the southeastern coast of Australia, between 400 and 1,000 meters deep

Size: Disc up to 1.7 centimeters wide; stem up to 0.8 centimeters long

IUCN classification: Not yet evaluated

In the world of Harry Potter, horklump is an animal that looks like a mushroom, and few animals with that shape have been more mysterious and controversial than Dendrogramma. Described in 2014, this deep-sea genus - made up of two closely related species - was initially very difficult to classify, so biologists were unable to assign it to an existing branch of the animal family tree and were included in a group at the time. called incertae sedis.

However, a 2016 analysis revealed that Dendrogramma did not belong to a group of its own: in fact, it is a genus of deep-sea cnidarian, an animal phylum that includes jellyfish, corals, and box jellyfish.


Fantastic animals of the real world

Real-life animal: Star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata)

Distribution: Canada and the United States

Size: 19.3 centimeters long

IUCN Classification: Least Concern

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them describes the Niffler as a mole-like being, very fond of stealing shiny objects. Although the star-nosed mole doesn't have great vision, it nonetheless has another very keen sense that it could use to steal: touch.

The 22 nasal tentacles of the star-nosed mole are endowed with thousands of microscopic sensory receptors called Eimer's organs, making them one of the most sensitive tactile organs in the animal world.

That starry nose allows the mole to see its surroundings in incredible detail, and it can hunt small subterranean invertebrates with astonishing efficiency. 

A star-nosed mole is capable of identifying, capturing, and consuming its prey in less than a quarter of a second, making it the fastest eating mammal in the world.

Source: National Geographic

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