Indian herpetologists discover new viper species in Arunachal Pradesh

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on April 23, 2020

Name it Trimeresurus Salazar, after Salazar Slytherin, a characted in JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels

Indian herpetologists have discovered a new species of viper family in Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh and named it after Salazar Slytherin, a fictional character in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The green pit viper species was discovered by a team led by Zeeshan Mirza of the Bengaluru-based National Centre for Biological Sciences, and his collaborators from Bombay Natural History Society, Fergusson College Pune, and the Wildlife Institute of India, in Dehradun.

The viper, called Trimeresurus Salazar, has a unique orange to reddish stripe, present on the head and body in males.

The researchers, who spotted the new venomous species during an expedition to the north-eastern State, reported the discovery in the open access journal, Zoosystematics and Evolution, recently.

Poor documentation of biodiversity

The pit vipers belong to the genus Trimeresurus and are distributed widely across East and South-East Asia. In total, the genus includes at least 48 species, with 15 representatives found in India. As they are small in size, spotting them in the field is rather difficult. As a result, their real diversity could be underestimated, the scientists said.

This is the second species discovered within the course of the expedition to Arunachal Pradesh, which reflects the poor nature of biodiversity documentation across North-East India.

"Dedicated surveys in future conducted across north-eastern India will help document biodiversity, which is under threat from numerous development activities that include road widening, agriculture and hydro-electric projects,” said Mirza, the lead author.

Published on April 22, 2020

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