An ophiology discovery has led to the identification of a new snake species in the dense rainforests of Peru. Named Tachymenoides harrisonfordi, the species has drawn attention primarily for the story behind its naming.
The naming is aimed at honouring Hollywood actor Harrison Ford for his commitment to environmental advocacy as vice chair of Conservation International. Ford’s iconic role in Indiana Jones fears snakes.
Ford expressed humility and surprise at having a snake named after him, chuckling at the irony of being associated with a creature he pretended to be terrified of on screen.
However, Ford’s real-life feelings toward snake species are quite different from his on-screen character’s fears. Ford mentioned that, unlike Indiana Jones, he actually has an affinity for snakes and feels a connection with the newly named species. He further expressed that he finds them to be fascinating creatures that hold a crucial role in the ecosystem. Ford also shared his observations of the snake’s captivating eyes.
Ford added that scientists consistently assign names of creatures to him. He noted the pattern that it’s consistently the ones that invoke fear in children. He expressed his confusion, pointing out that he dedicates his leisure time to cross-stitching and serenading lullabies to his basil plants in an attempt to ease their fear of the night.
According to the Conservation International website, the process of its discovery took researchers on a thrilling journey reminiscent of narratives found in Hollywood. The discovery of Tachymenoides harrisonfordi was a collaborative effort between researchers from Peru and the United States. Found in Peru’s Otishi National Park, the snake is a slender species that reaches an approximate size of 16 inches (40.6 cm) when fully grown. Contrary to its appearance, this snake poses no threat to humans. The predator prefers consuming lizards and frogs.
Biology professor Edgar Lehr of Illinois Wesleyan University led a team of scientists from Peru and the United States on an expedition to Peru’s Otishi National Park where the snake species discovery unfolded. The park is one of the least explored grasslands on Earth. It is largely accessible only by helicopter.
Professor Lehr underscored the pivotal role that species naming plays in their protection. A recent study highlighted the vulnerability of reptiles to extinction.
Tachymenoides harrisonfordi is not the first species to bear the actor’s name. In 1993, the Calponia harrisonfordi spider species was named after. Subsequently, an ant species named Pheidole harrisonfordi also found its place in the world of nomenclature.
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