No fangs to Harry Potter, a newly discovered species of venomous vipers has been named after Salazar Slytherin, a founding member of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The snake, a green pit viper of the genus Trimeresurus, hails from the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The team of researchers from India who discovered it must have been fans of the mega-popular Harry Potter series of books and films, as they chose to name it Trimeresurus salazar, roughly construed as “Salazar's Pit Viper”.
The India-based team posted the distinctive creature's facts and figures in the most recent issue of the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, a rather pithy scientific publication not currently on the curriculum at Hogwarts... although that may change!
For those not overly familiar with the Harry Potter literary and cinematic universe, Salazar Slytherin founded Hogwarts in the company of Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff. The founding foursome later lent their names to the school's iconic Houses.
It's fairly obvious why the researchers chose to name the new snake after Slytherin – no doubt they'll turn to Ravenclaw should they discover a new species of bird.
The character of Salazar Slytherin was described by author JK Rowling as being “ancient and monkey-like”. His serpentine namesake, on the other hand, can be distinguished from similar vipers in the genus Trimeresurus by an “orange to reddish stripe running from the lower border of the eye to the posterior part of the head,” so it's got that going for it, which is nice.
Oh, and don't bother trying to get up close and personal with Trimeresurus salazar... the forested hills and valleys of western Arunachal Pradesh aren't exactly tourist-friendly and, to be fair, neither are the vipers. (images via Novotaxa and Kzoo Cowboy)