Skip to main content

Perhaps the MCU and Star Wars have overtaken Harry Potter in pop culture references over the last couple of years. Not that Potter pop culture is waning any. Even in the science world, sometimes little nods are taken based on the major impact the books and movies had for an entire generation.

Author of Harry Potter J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling | John Phillips/Getty Images

Recently, a Potter reference popped up in the world of snakes. It came from researchers who happened to find a new species of pit viper in India.

These researchers might have grown up with Harry Potter in their young lives. Their naming the snake Salazar Slytherin gives everyone a chance to see how influential Harry Potter obviously was to a new generation of scientists.

Is it a first for a new species being named after a Harry Potter character?

Finding a new species of snake is already a big deal, if not unusual as more unknown creatures become discovered each year. Naming them after a pop culture character is not out of this world either.

Go back in time over the last decade and one can see other species named after Harry Potter creatures more than once. Some good examples include a trapdoor spider named Aragog, the spider owned by Hagrid. There was even a crab named after Severus Snape.

All told, close to a dozen newly-discovered creatures since the 2000s have Harry Potter names. The media still considers it unusual, though, hence many outlets not being able to resist covering a snake named Salazar Slytherin.

Some might find it amazing a new snake species was never discovered until now with the name of Slytherin. Knowing the origins of this will help understand the name better if one never paid enough attention to the Harry Potter craze.

A look back to the Salazar Slytherin character

What made Salazar Slytherin such a fascinating character in the Harry Potter books/movies is he was never seen. Yet, Salazar was one of the noted founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff are the other three school originator names.

Because Salazar had an uncanny ability to talk to snakes, it enabled the Slytherin Hogwarts house to come into being. Fans of the books and movies already know how villainous some characters are who came out of this part of Hogwarts.

Keeping this in mind, the above researchers gave some deep thought before naming the new pit viper snake Trimeresurus salazar.

According to, the scientists who found the snake prefer to call it Salazar’s pit viper. This snake is not one anyone wants to encounter, though. Considering how venomous it reportedly is, even the real Salazar would have trepidation interacting.

With India still being a hotbed of new species — including this snake being one of a family of 48 — it seems more Harry Potter names are waiting for future use.

Understanding the true impact of the Harry Potter world

Yes, many of the kids who grew up reading the Harry Potter books and seeing the movies are now working adults. The above researchers may be of that prime age and maybe not those older who never quite understood the fuss over the books.

More scientific discoveries here on earth may get further Potter designations because of this reach. For the sake of science, nobody should complain since it otherwise means using terms nobody would ever recognize.

So far, most of the species named after Harry Potter have been vertebrates and invertebrates. This means mostly lizards, spiders, and even one long-extinct dinosaur.

Since Harry Potter had a long list of creatures, this may be only the beginning of more names. With our seas still largely unexplored, someone might find something down there looking a little too much like a grindylow.