The wizarding world of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' may not be too far from real-life creatures living on the EDGE of existence.
ZSL's EdMcCue works with some of the planet's most unique animals and has spotted some uncanny similarities between these magical film characters and Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species that exist today.
The magical world looks as diverse and crazy as our own; here are our highlights of Fantastic Beast’s fantastic beasts, and what EDGE species we think inspired them, or at the very least, which they remind us of.
Be warned: slight spoilers, and EDGiness, ahead.
1. Nifflers & Echidnas
What is especially cool about the Niffler’s design are the ancestral echidna traits it exhibits. Echidnas are monotremes, the group of egg laying mammals that is only made up of themselves and platypuses. The ancestral body plan of the group is more similar to a platypus – so to see an echidna with a slightly wider duck billed mouth, and webbed hands and feet is oddly satisfying. Females also grow pouches to raise their young – similar to the one seen in the film; though slightly less filled with jewellery
2. Thunderbird and Philippine Eagle
Both endangered, and both pretty big – these two eagles share a cultural significance among their respective indigenous people. The Thunderbird comes from Native American myth and legend, and the Philippine Eagle is the National Bird of the Philippines.
While Black Rhinos and Pygmy Hippos may lack exploding venom stored in their jellyfish face, they share impenetrable hides and a fondness of charging with the Erumpent. The Erumpent takes the rhino’s characteristic horn, but also the aquatic lifestyle of the hippo, in the film.
4. Nundu & Clouded Leopard
They may not have a pufferfish like roar, but the Clouded Leopard is a particularly Evolutionary Distinct leopard. As it’s the only living big cat outside of the Panthera genus.
5. Graphorn & Javan Rhino/Baird’s Tapir
I’ll admit it, this one is a bit of a stretch. The Graphorn is a reptilian like quadroped, with spines, a long tail and a tentacle face. However, their prehensile eldritchian mass can be compared to the emotive prehensile trunk-like nose of a Tapir. As for my comparison to a rhino, J.K. Rowling’s description details similar tough hide, and human exploitation for their horns: ‘Powdered Graphorn horn is used in many potions, though it is immensely expensive owing to the difficulty in collecting it. Graphorn hide is even tougher than a dragon’s and repels most spells.’
6. Demiguise & Orangutan/Red Slender Slow Loris
Okay, so Orangutans and Slow Lorises can’t turn invisible like Demiguises, but they are pretty sneaky, stealthy and caring creatures. The Demiguise has the hair of an aged orangutan, and the large noctural eyes of a slow loris. Slow Lorises are one of the few mammals to be unusual enough to have a toxic bite, which they get by licking their toxic secreting glands on their arms. The protective behaviour of the Demiguise in the film can be compared to the extended maternal care female Orangutans give to their offspring, looking after them for up to 5 years on their own.
7. Occamy & Banded Ground-Cuckoo
Both of these animals are blue, have bird heads, and nest on the ground. Unfortunately the Banded Ground-Cuckoo likely doesn’t have a serpent body, or magically grow and shrink to fit its environment – but as one of Ecuador’s rarest birds, its hard to confirm or deny.
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