Scientists Discover New Species Of Snake And Name It After Salazar Slytherin
No, not Rubeus Hagrid - it's Salazar Slytherin, of course.
The snake in question was found by a team of researchers in India and is a green pit viper of the genus Trimeresurus, which are heavily venomous and can be found throughout East and Southeast Asia.
The new species - which has a distinguishing orangey red stripe on the head of males - has been named Trimeresurus salazar, with researchers suggesting the snake be commonly known as Salazar's pit viper.
If you're not big into Harry Potter and you're wondering why scientists plumped for this name, basically Salazar Slytherin is one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in J.K. Rowling's famous fantasy series, along with Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.
The houses at Hogwarts are named after these witches and wizards and the Slytherin House has a snake as its symbol, as Salazar was known for his ability to talk to the species in 'parseltongue', the language of serpents.
Acknowledging this etymology in their findings, which were published in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution last week, the researchers said: "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."
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Fair dos, I suppose.
There are at least 48 total species of this genus, 15 of which occur in India, and the scientists found the first Salazars by the side of a road.
Their findings read: "The type specimens were found during night search between 18:00-22:00 hours along a road. Both individuals were found coiled on shrubs along the road. A third individual was seen but escaped in the thick undergrowth."
One got away, eh? Perhaps this particularly sneaky snake carries the true soul of Salazar Slytherin, using its wizardry to evade its captors, never to be tamed, still at large casting curses upon ravens, lions and hufflepuffs. Or perhaps I'm just getting carried away.
If you ever want to try and find Salazar for yourself though, here is a very sciencey description of what you're looking for: "Dorsum green with a yellow tinge; ventrum creamy white with the dorsal green colour diffusing into the ventral scales on the ventral scale margins. Head dorsally dark green, which fades to lighter green to yellowish green on the nasal, labials, and preoculars.
"A reddish orange stripe extends from the posterior borders of the preoculars, running through the lower margin of the eyes to the lateral side of the nape. Dorsal scales yellowish green except for the first dorsal scale row, which is yellowish white and bears a faint orange patch; the yellow and the orange appears as a bicoloured lateral stripe running form the neck to the vent.
"Tail rusty red dorsally and orange ventrally."
Featured Image Credit: Zoosystematics and Evolution/Mirza et al
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