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Scientists Discover New Snake And Name It After Salazar Slytherin

by : Lucy Connolly on : 22 Apr 2020 10:49

Upon discovering a new species of green pit viper, a team of researchers in India decided to have a bit of fun naming it.

Rather than using its unique characteristics or the location in which it was found, researchers made the decision to go slightly off-piste with their naming strategy.

Taking a more fictional approach, they have named the snake after the one and only Salazar Slytherin, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the namesake of the Slytherin House.

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The researchers’ findings were published earlier this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, with the scientists naming the newly-discovered snake Trimeresurus Salazar.

They suggested the species should commonly be known as Salazar’s pit viper, adding: ‘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.’

For anyone who needs a quick Harry Potter refresh, Slytherin was known for his extremely rare ability to talk to snakes – called Parseltongue. It was so rare, in fact, that when Harry spoke using Parseltongue for the first time, everybody assumed he was somehow linked to Voldemort.

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Lead researcher Zeeshan A. Mirza, from the National Centre for Biological Science of Bangalore, told UNILAD the team named the snake as such because they are all ‘Potterheads’.

He said it was a ‘tribute to the most fascinating story [he has] ever read or even heard that coloured [his] childhood’, adding: ‘By naming it after Salazar Slytherin, we wanted to thank J. K. Rowling for introducing the world to the Harry Potter universe.’

Salazar’s pit viper was discovered during an expedition to Arunachal Pradesh in India, part of the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot, with Zeeshan describing how the team looked day and night for new species.

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He told UNILAD:

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.

After he returned to the lab in August 2019, the researcher started processing the samples for DNA extraction and it was eventually confirmed that the species ‘was indeed new’.

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Salazar’s pit viper, like other snakes in the Trimeresurus genus, is a venomous snake and can be found throughout East and South-east Asia. While this specific species was found in India, there are at least 48 species of this genus found in the region.

The new species is nocturnal, green in colour and has a distinct orange/rusty red stripe along the face and the entire body in males. It is this unique stripe that sets it apart from the other species, with Zeeshan saying the females of the species are ‘indistinguishable’ from females of other related species in field.

Thankfully, this is real life rather than Hogwarts, so the bad guys won’t be able to speak a secret language and use the snakes against us like He Who Must Not Be Named.

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Instead we can just admire them (from afar, obviously) and let the scientists tell us the rest.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Animals, Harry Potter, Salazar Slytherin, Science, Snakes

Credits

Zoosystematics and Evolution and 1 other
  1. Zoosystematics and Evolution

    A new species of green pit vipers of the genus Trimeresurus Lacépède, 1804 (Reptilia, Serpentes, Viperidae) from western Arunachal Pradesh, India

  2. EurekAlert!

    Welcome to the House of Slytherin: Salazar's pit viper, a new green pit viper from India