Researchers discovered a new species of venomous snake, and the Sorting Hat declared it a Slytherin.
In a report this month in Zoosystematics and Evolution, a team of scientists from the national Centre for Biological Science of Bangalore, India named the bright green discovery after Salazar Slytherin, a character from the Harry Potter series. This particular green pit viper dwells in northeastern India and its males have an orange-reddish stripe on their heads. Its full name “Trimeresurus salazar.”
“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,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
Salazar Slytherin, along with Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff, founded the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The fictional school’s four houses each embody a trait of their namesake: Ravenclaws are known for their intelligence, Hufflepuffs for their loyalty, Gryffindors for their bravery, and Slytherins for their ambition and cunning. Salazar Slytherin and his descendants were fluent in Parseltongue — the ability to speak to serpents. In the series, Slytherins were often associated with snakes and serpentine imagery.
The “Trimeresurus salazar,” know colloquially known as “Salazar’s pit viper,” probably won’t lead you through ancient plumbing to an underground dungeon. It also won’t chat with you for being the host to a magical supervillain’s soul. But it does point to a plethora of undiscovered biodiversity in South Asia.
It’s nor the first newly discovered species to be named after the Potterverse. In 2014, researchers named a parisitic wasp Ampulex dementor, after Azkaban’s soul-sucking wizard prison guards. In 2016, a triangular spider was named Eriovixia gryffindori because of its resemblance to the Sorting Hat.
Check out photos of Salazar’s pit viper here.