OurOur exciting new exhibition reveals a civilization wbelow nopoint is as it seems. Wbelow magical beasts and also terrific animals share the exact same extraordinary abilities, and where nature is revealed to be simply as spellbinding as anything in the wizarding civilization.

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This short article is an extract from Issue 44 of the Natural History Museum"s Evolve Magazine, composed by Kate Whittington. For more information on Membership, visit www.nhm.ac.uk/membership

This December, you’re invited to enter an extrasimple world wright here mythical animals roam, where spiky fossils look favor dragon skulls, and where herbal curiosities are revealed.

Our new exhibition – Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature – celebrates creatures, actual and magical, with the lens of J.K. Rowling’s spellbinding world of magic and adventure.

In the wizarding human being, Newt Scamander is a Magizoologist on a mission to study and define magical pets in his book, Fantastic Beasts andWright here to Find Them. Tip right into our exhibition, developed in partnership through Warner Bros., and you’ll follow in his footactions, surrounded by propsfrom the Fantastic Beasts films and real specimens from the Museum’s collections.

Uncover the beginnings of mythical pets, discover parallels between the impressive creatures Newt cares for and also real-life species, and also discover just how we’re fighting to defend them.


For centuries, human beings have actually whispered tales of mysterious creatures. Some are devastating and fierce, others pure and also benevolent, and also many boast impressive magical properties.

Mythological creatures such as unicorns, dragons, merpeopleand sea serpents are given a wizarding-civilization twist in the pagesof Fantastic Beasts and Wright here to Find Them. But can they havetheir beginnings in nature?

Scholars think that early descriptions of these extraplain creatures may have actually been inspired or reincompelled by encounters with genuine, but unfamiliar, wild pets. So for each terrific beastern, the exhibition explores the real-life species that might be responsible for the myths.

The most iconic of these creatures is the dragon. Its likeness shows up in many type of cultures throughout the periods. Could this firebreathing behemoth be inspired by snakes or crocodiles through their smooth scales, lengthy tails, sharp teeth and also frequently impressive sizes?

Or could human creativity have actually conjured up gigantic reptilian creatures after seeing stselection bones pulled from the earth?


In 2004, a spectacular dinosaur skull was found in the Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota in the US. It bore a close resemblance to a Western fairytale dragon, via its bony head covered in spikesand knobs.

Fossil collectors Brian Buckmeier and brothers Steve and Pat Saulsbury donated their uncover to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and also, in2006, a team of scientists formally defined the brand-new species. Inspired by its dragon-favor appearance, they named it Dracorex hogwartsia, which equates as the ‘dragon king of Hogwarts’, in honour of Harry Potter’sHogwarts School of Witchcraft and also Wizardry. Dracorex verified to be a form of ‘bone-headed’ dinosaur recognized as a pachycephalosaur. Despite its fearsome spiked skull, these dinosaurs are thought to have been greatly plant-eaters that lived sociably in tiny teams. As with many herd pets, individuals might have actually completed with each various other for mates.

Undoubtedly, the vertebrae show evidence of solid neck muscles that sustained its flat-topped head. Experts think Dracorex might have actually dealt with by pressing their heads together and pushing, utilizing upward thrusts to pressure their opponent backwards, a behaviour seen in some kinds of cows this particular day.

The ridges and knobs on the skull of Dracorex might likewise have actually aided to stop its head slipping once pressed against another’s in a battle of strength.Scientists have actually speculated that Dracorex might have supplied its horns to gore the flank of its enemies or in defence versus predators, a behaviour watched in contemporary antelope known as oryx. Though it may not have been able to breathe fire prefer a mythical dragon, Dracorex was clearly not a dinosaur to be messed through.

Thanks to contemporary scientific approaches, we deserve to infer just how a dinosaur might have behaved from a fossil. Yet take one look at the extraplain Dracorex skull in the exhibition and also you’ll see why human being pulling fossilsfrom the ground thousands of years ago might have actually taken them for massive, horned reptiles.


Leaving behind creatures of primitive legend, the next action on your journey of discovery absorbs modern-day marvels. Like many real-life naturalists, Newt Scamander travels the civilization observing the exceptional adaptations and abilities of his great beasts in their natural settings. From the Mooncalf’s elusive way of life to the Demiguise’s ability to vanish, and also the Niffler’s compulsive collecting to the Erumpent’s fondness for dance, all of these ‘magical’ powers have actually parallels among real-life pets.


Newt describes the Occamy as a ‘plumed, two-legged winged creature through a serpentine body’. He defines that the Occamy is ‘choranaptyxic’, a word invented by Rowling to define the animal’s magical capacity toreadjust its dimension to fit the available area. Though the prompt and also dramatic shape-changing presented by the Occamy – which increases to fill a room and also then shrinks to fit into a teapot – has actually not been observed in realanimals, some species can alter their dimension and shape in surpclimbing and also superior ways.

When endangered by a predator, the porcupinefish have the right to triple the volume of its body by drawing water into its extremely stretchy stomach. Its skin is extended in sharp spines, which are forced upappropriate as the fishbroadens.

Faced through a huge, spiky sphere, many predators will think twice before trying to take a bite. While porcupinefish expand to protect against fatality, queentermites expand to create life. The queen begins life roughly 17mm lengthy, the same dimension as many various other termites. But when the queen has actually mated, its body grows to as much as seven times its original dimension. When its abdoguys is roughly the size of a huguy finger, it’s also big to leave its tiny underground cell. The queen will remain tbelow for the rest of its life, being cared for by its normalsized offspring, while it lays approximately one egg every 3 secs.

That’s about 30,000 eggs a day and as many type of as 219 million eggs in its roughly 20-year lifeexpectations. The queen produces the whole colony, hatching employees that develop the termite mound, collect food and also nurse young, soldiers that defend the swarm, and winged adults that begin brand-new nests of their own.

While the Occamy’s capacity to expand also is not unheard of in nature, shrinking is a much rarer and also more complex organic feat. Galapagos marine iguanas have adjusted to shrink in the time of times of stress and anxiety. Living on the rocky shores of the Galapagos islands, these lizards feed just on algae and also seaweed. During El Niño years – a routine warming of sea surconfront temperatures in the Pacific Ocean – the iguana’s food becomes scarce.

Their usual diet of green and also red algae is replaced by brown algae, which they struggle to digest. Scientists measuring the lizards’ body lengths noticed they became shorter by approximately 7cm, roughly 20 per cent of their regular length. If the average perboy were to shrink by 20 per cent, they would certainly come to be around 33cm shorter.

It’s assumed that by reducing in dimension, marine iguanas deserve to alleviate their need for food and therefore expend less precious power foraging. When their favourite food regrows, the iguanas return to their original length. The shrinking procedure can take approximately 2 years, so it’s not asrapid as the magical Occamy, yet still a impressive feat.


Newt’s book, Fantastic Beasts and Wbelow to Find Them, is not simply an ID overview – it intends to inspire his fellow wizards to love and safeguard all magical creatures. He explains that many kind of magical beasts are hunted for their useful horns or silver eggs, or are persecuted as a result of are afraid or misexpertise. So we felt it was essential that the exhibition highlights some real-life threatened creatures and also reveals exactly how – simply like Newt – conservationists are working to readjust people’s opinions in order to save ‘unpopular’ species from extinction.

When emerging any exhibition, many principles are explored and also emerged that don’t make the last line-up. Outside of the exhibition, it’s been exciting to learn around some of the wizarding world’s lesscharismatic beasts, and also explore exactly how our perceptions of pets deserve to affect the means we treat them and also, as an outcome, influence their survival.

In the wizarding world, werewolves are outcasts, and human being living with the condition are viewed as evil and corrupt. In the Harry Potter series, the character Remus Lupin was a Hogwarts Professor and also a werewolf.

Unberecognized to many type of, Lupin struggled with his ‘furry little bit problem’ until he was inevitably required to reauthorize from Hogwarts when his problem was revealed. However before, Lupin was the initially werewolf to be awarded the Order of Merlin, and his kindness and courage assisted challenge the stigma faced byall werewolves.

In real-world mythology, werewolves are similarly feared and also reviled, and some human being feel the exact same antipathy to their herbal world equivalent, the wolf.

Whether they’re shown as evil, gluttonous predators, respected hunters, or symbols of wildness, wolves stir strong feelings in many kind of societies. Popular Western fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and also The Three Little Pigs cast wolves as sly and also untrustworthy predators to be defeated.

However, unlike werewolves, wolves are extremely unmost likely toassault humans, though occasional crimes on farmers’ livestock can bring them right into dispute with local neighborhoods.

In response, people have actually propelled wolves to extinction across a lot of their organic range.

Yet these height predators are exceptionally important to the health and wellness and also diversity of their setting, and aid regulate populations of grazing animals, such as deer. With rewilding campaigns on the increase, wolves aresteadily returning to a lot of their former European selection. As populations recoup, conservationists are trying to discover means to help us live through the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ as soon as even more.


From killer whales to vampire bats, the names we provide to animals can have actually a lasting negative affect on exactly how they’re regarded. In the wizarding civilization, the unfortunately called ‘Swooping Evil’ is feared for its ability to suck the brains out of its prey. However, its venom, when properly diluted, can be offered to erase poor memories.

To counteract negative attitudes, researchers are trying making use of names to boost exactly how we ‘see’ animals. Tom Saunders, an entomologist from the University of Auckland, wanted to difficulty people’s disfavor of wasps by naming a freshly uncovered species Lusius malfoyi, after the Harry Potter character Lucius Malfoy. Though commonly considered a villain for his occupational as a Death-Eater under the Dark Lord, Voldemort, Malfoy later on provides evidence against various other Death-Eaters, aiding in their capture.

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Humans can’t make it through without nature, and as we uncover more about exactly how interassociated our world truly is, conservationists favor Newt are working to transform our feelings from fear and also disfavor to respect and also admiration once it comes to animals such as wasps, wolves, spiders and sharks. We hope the exhibition will certainly assist inspire a love of all beasts, furry,scaled, slithering, flapping and crawling.

As Newt Scamander says: ‘Why do we continue… to attempt to defend and also conceal magical beasts, even those that are savage and also untameable? The answer is, of course, to ensure that future generations of witchesand wizards reap their starray beauty and also powers as we have been privileged to execute.’