Indian researchers, most likely Harry Potter fans, discovered a new species of green pit vipers in the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. They named the new species 'Trimeresurus salazar', after Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the film Harry Potter.
The research team behind the discovery suggested "Salazar's pit viper" for the snake's common name. The pit viper is the newest addition to fantastic beasts named after Harry Potter characters, including a sorting hat spider named Eriovixia gryffindori and a crab called Harryplax severus.
Zeeshan Mirza of the National Centre for Biological Sciences in India, the lead author of the study, said that future surveys conducted across northeastern India would help document biodiversity, which is threatened by numerous developmental movements that include hydro-electro projects, road widening, and agricultural projects.
The findings of the team's research were published this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution. Pensoft, the journal's publisher, said in a statement on Tuesday that the new species discovered demonstrates a unique orange to reddish stripe, which was present on the head and body in male snakes.
Quick Harry Potter Rundown
For those who have read up to this point and are still clueless about half of the things mentioned above, here's a quick run-through on Harry Potter.
To keep it short and sweet, Harry Potter is a boy who later finds out that he was a wizard on his eleventh birthday. With no mention from his aunt and uncle about his parents being a witch and wizard, Harry finds himself in a new world of magic as he was brought to Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Now with that settled, let's head on to the snake reference. Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his friends Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff. Hogwarts in the same school Harry Potter attended years later.
Not only were they one of the most dynamic witches and wizards of their time in the wizarding world, but they were also the four flags in which the Hogwarts houses were named after.
Salazar Slytherin is notorious for being a parseltongue, the language of snakes. The snake, after all, is the symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house.
Pit Vipers 101
The pit vipers in the genus Trimeresurus are venomous and found vastly throughout East and Southeast Asia. Salazar's pit viper was found in India, but there is atleast a total of 48 species of this genus found in the domain.
Pit vipers have two movable fangs and a heat-sensitive pit organ between each eye and nostril. These features help it accurately aim its strike at its warm-blooded prey. Experiments have shown that when deprived of their senses of sight and smell, these snakes can accurately pummel at moving objects less than 0.2 °C warmer than the background.
The pit organs equip the snake with thermal rangefinder capabilities. These organs are essential to a predator that hunts at night, as well as for avoiding the snake's predators. Pit vipers may be terrestrial, arboreal, or aquatic. Some species lay eggs while other species produce live young.