Researchers have discovered a new species of venomous snake in Arunachal Pradesh.
The findings about the snake were published in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution by a team of researchers from India.
The new species of snake has been named after J.K. Rowling’s fictional character Salazar Slytherin, co-founder of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The pit viper was discovered by the team of researchers in the thick evergreen forests of Pakke tiger reserve in July 2019 and has been named 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. He was a Parselmouth that links him to serpents. The suggested common name is Salazar’s pit viper,” Harshal Bhosale, conservation officer at Bombay Natural History Society, said.
“Two specimens were found in field that helped diagnose the new species,” researchers Zeeshan A. Mirza, Bhosale, Pushkar Phansalkar, Mandar Sawant, Gaurang Gowande and Harshil Patel said in the paper.
Comparison of the specimens found near Pakke with T. septentrionalis and T. albolabris revealed that the latter represent a new species.
“Molecular data for the specimens corroborate our morphological findings and allow us to describe a new species of green pit vipers from northeastern India,” the paper said.
The researchers said they collected two specimens of green pit viper, which resembled the species Trimeresurus septentrionalis and Trimeresurus albolabris in the number of dorsal scale rows and colouration.
However, these specimens differed in the colour of the lateral stripe on the head and the body in males.
The new species differed from its closely related species of green pit vipers in bearing a rusty red or orange lateral stripe along the head and the entire body.
They said the specimens were found between 6pm and 10pm, coiled on shrubs along the road.
A third specimen was seen but escaped in the thick undergrowth. The three snakes were seen during searches over six nights.
Mirza is associated with the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, Sawant is associated with the Bombay Natural History Society, Gowande with Pune’s Fergusson College and Phansalkar with the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
The researchers said they have documented more species from the forests of Arunachal, which is likely to yield new species. Work is underway to describe them.