Erumpents and mating dances in the wild

Explore the stories behind the Fantastic Beasts™: The Wonder of Nature exhibition. Step inside the colourful world of animal courtship, and meet real-life creatures who could out-dance the magical Erumpent in their quest to attract a mate.

ErumpentThe Natural History Museum

'The Erumpent is a large grey African beast of great power. Weighing up to a tonne, the Erumpent may be mistaken for a rhinoceros at a distance… It has a thick hide that repels most charms and curses, a large, sharp horn upon its nose and a long, rope-like tail. Erumpents give birth to only one calf at a time.

The Erumpent will not attack unless sorely provoked, but should it charge, the results are usually catastrophic. The Erumpent’s horn can pierce everything from skin to metal, and contains a deadly fluid which will cause whatever is injected with it to explode.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Erumpent numbers are not great, as males frequently explode each other during the mating season… They are treated with great caution by African wizards. Erumpent horns, tails and the Exploding Fluid are all used in potions, though classified as Class B Tradeable Materials (Dangerous and Subject to Strict Control).'
– Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them™

Erumpent muskThe Natural History Museum

Handle with care – Erumpent musk is potent!

Newt used just a few drops of musk to catch the attention of a female Erumpent who had escaped into New York’s Central Park Zoo. Newt then performed a mating dance to woo the Erumpent back into his magical case.

Natural dancers
In nature, animal courtship is a world of colour, sound and motion.

Bright feathers and patterns are often combined with lively dance moves. Complex, energetic routines help to show off the intelligence and fitness of a potential mate. Sometimes animals will dance in pairs, but often it is the male who leads.

Could these creatures out-dance an Erumpent?

Peacock SpiderThe Natural History Museum

Peacock spider (Maratus pavonis)

Like a peacock parading its feathers, a male peacock spider tries to impress a mate by raising its brightly coloured bottom (known as an abdomen) and waving its long legs.

This delicate dance is a matter of life and death – if the performance does not impress, a female might eat the male.

Amazing ability
Beautiful dancing on a miniature scale

Where to find them
Strutting their stuff across western and southern Australia

Lawe's ParotiaThe Natural History Museum

Lawes's parotia bird of paradise (Parotia lawesii)

Fanning out its feathers, a male Lawes' parotia performs a ballet-like dance to impress potential mates. Females watch from a branch above.

When observing a similar species from a female's viewpoint, scientists found that the silvery feathers on the back of the male's head give a bright, mirror-like reflection, emphasising its head movements.

Amazing ability
Flashy dance moves

Where to find them
Dancing around in the forests of central Papua New Guinea

Lawe's ParotiaThe Natural History Museum

The Lawes's parotia is one of many bird-of-paradise species in Papua New Guinea.

Their forest homes are increasingly threatened by logging and by people planting crops used to make palm oil.

Credits: Story

For more information and to book tickets to the exhibition, visit the Museum's website.

To find out more about the Wizarding World, visit

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s21)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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