Newly discovered snake is named after Harry Potter character

Trimeresurus salazar: Zambre and Chintan Seth, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary

A new species of snake has been discovered by researchers in India. 

The snake is a species of Trimeresurus - a type of venomous pit viper - and was found living in the lowlands of western Arunachal Pradesh. 

Inspired by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, scientists from the National Centre for Biological Science of Bangalore, India, named the snake  'Trimeresurus salazar'  - after the founder of the most controversial house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - Slytherin.

In the world of Harry Potter, Salazar Slytherin was most famous for being able to speak to snakes in their language of “Parseltongue” and for practicing the Dark Arts.

"All of us are obviously very big fans," lead researcher Zeeshan A. Mirza of the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India told The Indian Express.

The Trimeresurus salazar has a distinctive character. Males have a single orange-red stripe running from its lower eye to the back of the head, which helps to distinguish this species from other known green snakes.

According to the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, the Trimeresurus genus of snakes are known for their powerful venom. They are found primarily throughout Southwest and Southern Asia.

There are at least 48 known species of pit viper — 15 of those can be found in India.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry letter
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry letter

More Harry Potter inspired names… 

The Trimeresurus salazar is not the first animal to be named after characters from Harry Potter:

  • Lusius malfoyi was the name given to an insect discovered in New Zealand - named after the infamous antagonist Lucius Malfoy (father of Draco Malfoy). 
  • Ampulex dementor is a species of cockroach wasp native to Thailand - believed to have a behavioural resemblance to Dementors, fictional creatures found in the Harry Potter book franchise.
  • Eriovixia Gryffindori is a small hat-shaped spider named after Godric Gryffindor, founder of the Gryffindor house at Hogwarts.
    Aname aragog and Lycosa aragogi, are two spider species named after Hagrid's giant pet spider Aragog. 
    There is also Harryplax severus, a crab native to Guam (an island in the Western Pacific), named after Harry Potter and Severus Snape.

Animals named after famous characters can help to highlight areas and species that are often ignored.

Dr Mirza stressed his concerns about biodiversity in the area of Arunachal Pradesh being under threat: "Future dedicated surveys in northeast India will help document biodiversity, which is threatened by numerous development activities including road expansion, agriculture and hydroelectric projects."

Research like the snake discovery will hopefully help with conservation efforts.

Reference: Zeeshan A. Mirza et al, A new species of green pit vipers of the genus Trimeresurus Lacépède, 1804 (Reptilia, Serpentes, Viperidae) from western Arunachal Pradesh, India, Zoosystematics and Evolution, (2020), 123-138. DOI: 10.3897/zse.96.48431

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