Wizard Taxonomy: Magical Beasts and How to Classify Them
What you'll learn
- A critical examination of magical animals, comparing their literary significance against the backdrop of biology, taxonomy, history, and mythology!
Do the magical creatures from Harry Potter fit neatly into the taxonomic structures we've designed?
In this class, we'll discuss and critically examine the magical creatures found in wizardry. We'll attempt the biological classification of magical plants and animals. We'll study the traits and behaviors of different groups of living things, and how these groups are divided into categories for biologists to study. We'll learn the usefulness of cladograms for classification (as well as the downfalls of the current classification system). We will also explore the mythological inspirations for some of these creatures.
Students will also try their hand at designing at least three of their own fantastic creatures, brainstorm how their beast compares to a real living thing, and present their creations to the class.
Part 1: Criteria for "life," non-living creatures in the wizard world, introduction to taxonomy.
Creatures included: animated magical objects, ghosts, zombies, poltergeists, boggarts, etc.
Part 2: Kingdoms of life, plant kingdom, fungi kingdom
Plants and Fungi included: toadstools, mistletoe, dittany, mandrakes, etc.
Part 3: Phyla of the animal kingdom, phylum Mollusca, phylum Annelida (molluscs, squid, worms)
Creatures included: chitons, slugs, giant squids, tardigrades, etc.
Part 4: Phylum Arthropoda (insects, spiders, crabs, lobsters, etc.)
Creatures included: stick insects, doxies, giant dung beetles, amblypigis, crabs, etc.
Part 5: Intro to phylum Chordata, class Pisces, class Amphibia (fish and amphibians)
Creatures included: zouwu, hippocampus, kelpie, merpeople, ramora, sea serpents, fire salamander, kappa, etc.
Part 6: Class Reptilia (reptiles)
Creatures included: dragons, chupacabra, basilisk, horned serpent, etc.
Part 7: Class Aves (birds)
Creatures included: ravens, snallygaster, basan rooster, owl, griffin, hippogriff, thunderbird, etc.
Part 8: Intro to Class Mammalia, order Carnivora (hoofed mammals and large carnivores)
Creatures included: badger, hodag, cerberus, werewolf, chimera, manticore, wampus cat, etc.
Part 9: Order Artiodactyla, order Perrisodactyla, order Primates (monkeys, apes, humanoid magical creatures)
Creatures included: leucrotta, winged horses, centaur, unicorn, yeti, pixie, fairy, gnome, leprechaun, goblin, redcap, etc.
Part 10: All other mammal orders, unclassified mammals, miscellaneous creatures.
Creatures included: duckbilled platypus, echidna, marsupials, rabbit, elephant, aardvark, sloth, etc.
Who this course is for:
- Harry Potter fans who want to learn more about the magical creatures they love, and how they might fight into real life taxonomy.
I'm a "highly certified" teacher in Arizona, in both Science and Language Arts. I have a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Space Science Education. I have four children ranging from 6 to 12 years of age. Besides teaching on Outschool and Udemy, I also run my own business doing astronomy shows in an inflatable planetarium for libraries and schools. In my spare time, I like to hike with my family, go on road trips, and volunteer with the Crisis Text Line (an organization that helps at-risk teens and young adults work through difficult situations).