Metallica’s James Hetfield Has Venomous Species of Snake Named After Him
An African Bush Viper discovered by a team of scientists led by Dr. Luis Ceriaco has been taxonomically classified as "Atheris hetfieldi." The reptile can grow up to 52cm (just over 20 inches) in length and even lives at the base of a volcano on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea, reported Metal Hammer, who also spoke with Dr. Ceriaco about his team's latest discovery.
This new species of viper is said to have "a triangular-shaped head and strongly-keeled scales, which gives them a dragon-like appearance, which certainly is consonant with the image of a singer of a heavy metal band." The photos of the snake seen here actually do closely resemble the photo of Papa Het at the top of the page — it's the hair that seals the deal.
"Both me and Mariana Marques, the second author of the paper, are big fans of Metallica and James Hetfield since a very young age," said Dr. Ceriaco.
"We wanted to honor him, as a thank you for all the good vibes his music has transmitted to us during all of our personal lives and careers," the scientist continued, further explaining, "Also, we think that a mysterious venomous and cool looking snake, who lives in the base of a volcano lost in the middle of the tropical forest is very relatable to heavy metal! On another hand, naming a new species after someone as James brings more attention to the much needed biodiversity studies and field surveys. We are in race against the extinction of a large proportion of the world's biodiversity, and many species may go extinct before we even know they exist!"
When asked about the naming process, Dr. Ceriaco said, "We only have to abide by certain terminological rules ruled by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature," and that, ultimately, the name is determined by the author of the peer-reviewed paper regarding the new discovery.
This sort of thing (naming newly discovered species after rock and metal stars) is quite common. Just take a look at some others below.
15 Rock + Metal Icons Who've Inspired the Name of a New Species