Researchers have discovered a new snake, which also led to a common issue. When any new animals are discovered, they need to be named. They decided to go with something a little out of the ordinary with this snake, rather than choosing something associated with its location or characteristics.
They pulled something out of fiction, naming the snake after Salazar Slytherin. In case you have also been hiding under a rock with the snake, Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The journal Zoosystematics and Evolution published the findings from the researchers, including naming the discovered snake, Trimeresurus Salazar.
They suggested that the species should have the common name of Salazar’s pit viper, saying, “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.”
Just in case you need to be refreshed in your Harry Potter history, Slytherin was well known for his ability to talk to snakes, called Parseltongue. It was rather rare in the Harry Potter world, so when Harry spoke it for the first time, everybody thought he was linked to Voldemort.
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Zeeshan A. Mirza is the lead researcher from the National Centre for Biological Science of Bangalore. He told UNILAD that they named the snake after the Harry Potter character because they are all “Potterheads.”
He said it was a “tribute to the most fascinating story [he has] ever read or even heard that colored [his] childhood.” He added, “By naming it after Salazar Slytherin, we wanted to thank J. K. Rowling for introducing the world to the Harry Potter universe.”
They discovered Salazar’s pit viper on an expedition to Arunachal Pradesh in India. It is a biodiversity hotspot in the Himalayan range. Zeeshan talked about how they searched for new species day and night.
“At night, we would scan roads along forested areas to see actively moving reptiles. Two individuals of the pit viper were found on low bushes during these night patrols.”
When he went back to the lab in August 2019, samples began to be processed from DNA extraction. Eventually, they confirmed that the snake was indeed a new species.
Similar to other stakes in the Trimeresurus genus, Salazar’s pit viper is venomous and can be found in South East and East Asia. The specific species they found was in India, and there is a minimum of 48 species in this genus in that region.
The new species is green in color, nocturnal, and has a rusty red stripe along its face and body. That stripe is only found on the males of the species. It is the stripe that perhaps sets the Salazar’s pit viper apart from other snakes. Zeeshan said that the females are “indistinguishable” from other females in related species.
We are thankful that this played out in real life and not in Hogwarts. The snake doesn’t speak any type of secret language or use other snakes against us. It’s just something interesting that was discovered in a remote location.
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