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SYFY WIRE Harry Potter

Calling all Parseltongues: Newly discovered snake named for Harry Potter's Salazar Slytherin

By Jacob Oller
Trimeresurus salazar sp. nov. juvenile male from Pakke Tiger Reserve

The latest addition to the Harry Potter canon doesn't come from author J.K. Rowling or even the ever-expanding Wizarding World, with its various prequels and offshoots. Instead, it's from the real world, where a newly discovered snake has taken on the name of one of the most famous Parselmouths in the Harry Potter universe: Salazar Slytherin.

The wizard who helped found Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (and gave his name to its most cunning house) has long been associated with snakes, with even Slytherin's symbol being a serpent of silver and green. Now, thanks to researchers including Zeeshan Mirza, the snake found in India's Arunachal Pradesh will continue the fictional spellcaster's legacy. The striking green pit viper, dubbed Trimeresurus salazar (or Salazar's pit viper), made its official scientific debut in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

The snake boasts a distinctive red-orange stripe present on males and is generally as cool-looking as most self-involved Slytherins think they are. However, there's no scientific basis for believing that Slytherin left this pit viper behind in the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot as he did with the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets basilisk

Other noted snake-speakers in the Potterverse include protagonist Harry and Lord Voldemort, an heir of Slytherin himself. But Trimeresurus salazar is definitely not evil or bent on taking out Muggles, despite its namesake. It's just too sweet for that.