We were delighted to see the New York Times report from behind the scenes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It was especially interesting to hear how actor Eddie Redmayne describes some of the fantastic creatures in the upcoming feature film, based on J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff. Mr. Redmayne plays the lead character Newt Scamander. This is the magician/zoologist who wrote the text book on magical creatures used by students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (where Harry Potter studied in the seven-volume saga).
We could never let a teachable moment pass, so here we share some similarities from J. K. Rowling’s “Wizarding World” with the real natural world—which sometimes can be just as magical as fiction. The wonders of nature, which inspire so much human endeavor, illustrate why we need to save Earth’s literally “fantastic” biodiversity.
Real World With Wizarding World Comparison 1
Wizarding World Creature: The Demiguise
Real World Animal: Tarsier
Real World With Wizarding World Comparison 2
Wizarding World Creature: The Bowtruckle
Real World Animal: Stick and leaf insects
Similar to Newt’s Bowtruckle companion, stick insects are able to almost perfectly blend into the vegetation that surrounds them. Some of these bugs even seem to sprout leaves, just like the bowtruckles, such as the New Guinea walking stick (Heteropteryx dilatata).
Real World With Wizarding World Comparison 3
Wizarding World Creature: The Niffler
The Niffler is a small furry creature with a platypus-like snout and an appetite for shiny things. Newt’s interactions with him are based on Mr. Redmayne’s observations of a zoologist working with a baby anteater. “It would curl up into a little ball, and in order to make it relax, she would tickle his little belly,” he said.
While the Niffler can hoard shiny objects by folding up its body, some animals are capable of protecting themselves by rolling themselves into a ball. The Southern three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus) is capable of rolling itself into a ball when it feels threatened—a ball so round you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a basketball. Its conservation status is near threatened, so we need to help provide more protection, too.
Real World Animal: Southern Three-banded Armadillo
We thank Newt Scamander (and Eddie Redmayne, of course) for helping us see the real magic of our natural world!