Scientists Discover New Snake And Name It After Salazar Slytherin, A 'Harry Potter' Wizard

Scientists Discover New Snake And Name It After Salazar Slytherin, A 'Harry Potter' Wizard

The distinct feature of the newly discovered species of pit viper is an orange-reddish stripe found on the side of the head in males.

Lord Voldemort is not going to pleased with this one. A team of researchers who discovered a new species of green pit vipers have decided to name the snake after Salazar Slytherin, a fictional character from the Harry Potter series penned by J.K. Rowling. For those not familiar with the Harry Potter world, Salazar Slytherin is one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the ancestor of Voldemort, Harry Potter's arch-nemesis. The new species of green vet vipers were found in India and the findings were published in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution this month. The distinct feature of this species of a pit viper is the orange-reddish stripe found on the side of the head in males.

Salazar's pit viper/ Zeeshan A. Mirza/Aamod Zambre and Chintan/Eaglenest Biodiversity Project


The reason for choosing Salazar Slytherin as an inspiration for the name was because of the character's ability to talk to snakes. The symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house is also a snake. It is for this reason that the researchers named the new species Trimeresurus Salazar. In the research published, the team suggests the snake commonly be known as Salazar's pit viper. Pit vipers in the genus Trimeresurus are venomous and found throughout East and Southeast Asia. There are a total of 48 total species in the region and this particular species — Trimeresurus Salazar — has been found in India. 




The team has scoured the Pakke Tiger Reserve between July and August 2019 and found two pit vipers of the new species in July. Researcher Zeeshan A Mirza, who is part of the 5-member team, said they were inspired by JK Rowling's book. "All of us are obviously very big fans,” said researcher Mirza, reported The Indian Express. In a paragraph under section etymology, the researchers explain why the origin of the name. “The specific epithet is a noun in apposition for JK Rowling’s fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s co-founder, Salazar Slytherin. He was a Parselmouth that links him to serpents," states the paper. 



The new species was discovered by a five-member team in Arunachal Pradesh, a state in Northeast India. More than 110 species of snakes can be found in Northeast India with more than fifty species found in Arunachal Pradesh alone. "That place is like heaven for herpetologists," said Harshal S Bhosale, of Bombay Natural History Society, who was also part of the research team. “Not many people have studied reptiles and amphibians in India. The reference books we have are mostly written by British people, published in the 1930s,” added Bhosale. Apart from Bhosale and Mirza, the team featured Pushkar Phansalkar from the Wildlife Institute of India, Mandar Sawant of the Bombay Natural History Society, Gaurang Gowande of Pune’s Fergusson College, and Harshil Patel of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University.



One of the other obvious names Harry Potter fans can associate with snakes is Nagini, Lord Voldemort's snake. It was a name that Mirza pondered on before going for Salazar but he decided to “save it for when, and if, they discover a new cobra species since Nagini was a cobra.” JK Rowling herself got the inspiration from the word Nagin which translates to 'snake' in Hindi, one of the many languages in India. Researcher Zeeshan Mirza said the fictional series was a huge inspiration for him. “Childhood experiences largely stay with you. When I was growing up, JK Rowling was a big part of my childhood, and perhaps everyone else who has read the book. Now what better way to honor and thank her than naming the species after one of her characters?” said Mirza. The Ministry of Magic will certainly not be impressed with muggles using the names of esteemed wizards. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12: J.K. Rowling speaks onstage at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

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