Once a Potterhead, always a Potterhead! A group of researchers has named a newly discovered species of venomous green pit viper as Trimeresurus salazar after the Harry Potter character Salazar Slytherin.
The gorgeous green snake has been discovered by a group of researchers from the Bombay Natural History Society and National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru and their paper announced the addition of Salazar's pit viper to the Trimeresurus Lacepede genus.
The snake was found during a herpetological expedition in the north-east state of Arunachal Pradesh that is renowned for its Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. Salazar's pit viper was located in the Pakke Tiger Reserve and was marked for its green colour, orange stripe on head, and dorsal scales that resembled two other snakes - Trimeresurus septentrionalis and Trimeresurus albolabris. However, the genomic DNA test confirmed Salazar's pit viper as a new species.
A new snake species from Pakke Tiger Resrve, Arunachal Pradesh (India), Trimeresurus salazar named after Salazar Slytherin, a fictional character from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.https://t.co/nF1dIaOMi7 @jk_rowling @GGowande @phansalkarp @HarryPotterFilm— Zeeshan A. Mirza (@snakeszeeshan) April 16, 2020
The paper published in life science journal Zoosystematics and Evolution's April issue elaborates on the unique name, with researchers crediting the Harry Potter wizard for their inspiration.
"The specific epithet is a noun in apposition for J.K. Rowling’s fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s co-founder, Salazar Slytherin. He was a Parselmouth that links him to serpents. Suggested common name: Salazar’s pit viper," wrote the researchers.
Salazar's pit viper is the second species of snake discovered, after Trachischium apteii, in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh. In light of the new discovery, the researchers reflected on the underexplored state of biodiversity in the Himalayan forests. However, the popular name is expected to generate much-needed attention towards the biodiversity hotspot which is under threat from developmental activities in the region, as observed in the paper.
Salazar's pit viper is not the first species to have a name inspired by J.K. Rowling’s fictional world. Over the years, several vertebrates and invertebrates have been named in honour of Harry Potter characters.
In 2017, a beady eye crab was named Harryplax severus and a new species of wasp was named Lusius malfoyi. In 2015, a new species of wolf spider was named Lycosa aragogi after Aragog, the rare giant spider whose venom was used to make magical potions in Rowling's world, and a wasp discovered in jungles of Southeast Asia was named Ampulex dementor.