Seven New Species of Spiders Have Been Named After Beloved Fictional Spiders in Fantasy Literature
A Brazilian research team chose to further immortalize several literary fantasy classics by naming seven new species of spiders they discovered in caves in northern Brazil after fictional spider characters included in the famous works. The new species were discovered in iron caves throughout the state of Para, northern Brazil. The species were named after spider characters in the literary classics Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, A Song of Fire and Ice, H. P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, Charlotte’s Web, and the children’s nursery rhyme Little Miss Spider.
The first character immortalized was Lord Varys from George R. R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire. The new spider species has been named Ochyrocera varys. In reference to his manipulative skills and ability to command and “weave” the network of “eyes and ears” he has spread throughout the two continents Lord Varys is also often referred to as the “Spider.”
The list continues with the Ochyrocera atlachnacha, which refers to Atlach-Nacha, the spider god from H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional universe in The Call of Cthulhu. The character of Atlach-Nacha is an actual giant spider with the face of a human, who lives in caves underneath a mountain, spending his time spinning a web that is believed to link the real world with the Dreamlands.
Two species have been named after spider characters in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The first is the Ochyrocera laracna, which is named after the giant spider Laracna (Shelob in English) that attacks Frodo and Sam during their journey to Mordor in the second volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. The second species, Ochyrocera ungoliant, is named after Laracna’s mother, Ungoliant, who appears in The Silmarillion. According to the literary classic, Ungoliant means Dark Spider in the Elvish language.
The talking giant spider Aragog from the Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling, is immortalized in the name of the new species Ochyrocera aragogue. Aragog lives in the deepest, darkest section of the Forbidden Forest.
The less violent spiders paid tribute are David Kirk’s Little Miss Spider with the species Ochyrocera misspider and the Ochyrocera charlotte species, which refers to the spider Charlotte that befriends the main character, a pig named Wilbur, in E.B. White’s literary classic Charlotte’s Web.
If you could name a new species of spider after your favorite spider character from fiction, who would you choose to name it after?