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New pit viper in Arunachal Pradesh named after Harry Potter character

The new species, Trimeresurus salazar’s name is inspired by Salazar Slytherin, the co-founder of J.K. Rowlings’ fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A new species of green pit viper found in Arunachal Pradesh has a Harry Potter link.

A group of researchers who recorded this serpent has named it Salazar’s pit viper. The name was inspired by Salazar Slytherin, the co-founder of J.K. Rowlings’ fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Pit vipers are venomous snakes distinguished by their heat-sensing pit organs between the eye and the nostril.

The discovery by Zeeshan A. Ayaz Mirza of Bengaluru’s National Centre for Biological Sciences, Harshal S. Bhosale of Bombay Natural History Society and four others was published in the April issue of Zoosystematics and Evolution.

Also read | New species of non-venomous burrowing snake found in Arunachal

The new species, Trimeresurus salazar is the fifth variety of reptile to have been discovered in Arunachal Pradesh in a little more than a year beginning with the crying keelback followed by the impressive tortoise, so named because of the striking pattern on its back.

The other two species are the Arunachal pit viper, India’s fifth brown pit viper but with a reddish tinge, and a natricid burrowing snake similar to the shieldtail snake found in the Western Ghats.

According to the researchers, Salazar’s pit viper belongs to the genus Trimeresurus Lacépède comprising “charismatic venomous serpents with morphologically as well as ecologically diverse species”. At least 48 species are known to be distributed across east and southeast Asia, of which at least 15 occur in India.

Of the species recorded from India, seven had been found in the northeast before the Salazar’s pit viper, collected from the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Pakke-Kessang district, and was identified as a separate species.

The specimens were collected during a herpetological expedition between June 25 and August 5, 2019.

The new species was found to have scales similar to three other pit viper species — Trimeresurus septentrionalis, Trimeresurus insularis Kramer and Trimeresurus albolabris. What set it apart was a reddish orange lateral stripe on the head besides some other subtle variations.

“Green pit viper conforming to the specifications of the one named after a Harry Potter character have been found in urban areas too. Its identification as a distinct species has added to the herpetofaunal wealth of the region,” Guwahati-based herpetologist Jayadita Purkayastha said.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 4:41:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/new-pit-viper-in-arunachal-pradesh-named-after-harry-potter-character/article31356892.ece

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