Snake names honor Darwin, fire god, college professor


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A Louisiana professor is in heady firm, honored by having one in every of three newly recognized species of snakes from the Galapagos Islands named after him.

“They named one after Charles Darwin — that is a no brainer — and one after the Greek god of fireplace, and one after me, of all individuals,” mentioned Robert A. Thomas , an environmental biologist and head of the Middle for Environmental Communication at Loyola College New Orleans.

The snake in query, a good-looking critter with lengthwise brown and creamy yellow stripes, is known as Pseudalsophis thomasi.

“I’ve received an image of it taped up right here within the workplace, and it makes me smile each time I take a look at it,” Thomas mentioned.

He is been learning snakes because the 1970s and started learning these within the Galapagos Islands in 1984. In 1997, he printed an summary of Galapagos snakes primarily based on options equivalent to scale counts, patterns and different shapes and types.

A workforce of Brazilian and Ecuadorian biologists led by Dr. Hussam Zaher of the Universidad de Sao Paolo used genetic evaluation to restudy the snakes and work out their evolutionary route by the chain of islands.

That research recognized the three new species. Along with Pseudalsophis thomasi, they’re Pseudalsophis hephaestus, for the island chain’s volcanic origins; and Pseudalsophis darwini, for the scientist whose idea of evolution grew out of a voyage by the Galapagos.

Their findings have been printed on-line Aug. 22 by the journal Systematics and Biodiversity, and on Sept. three within the Brazilian journal Pesquisa.

The scientists invited Thomas to hitch the workforce 5 years in the past. He shared the data he had collected and received extra from U.S. museums. Then the others advised him they needed to call one of many new species after him, to honor his work learning the islands’ snakes.

“I needed to drop off the paper. The foundations are that you simply can’t be an writer on a paper the place one thing is called after you,” Thomas mentioned. “I considered it deeply and determined there are just a few enjoyable honors you should not move up in life. That is one in every of them.”

Thomas mentioned the species is mildly venomous however not harmful to individuals — solely to lizards and different small animals. The one used for the species’ formal description was 726 millimeters (about 28.6 inches) lengthy and weighed 105 grams (three.7 ounces).

Thomas mentioned he has pictures of the snake that he took in 1984, not realizing it was a distinct species. They weren’t superb, he mentioned, as a result of the snake was wriggling, however they did let him describe the stomach scales and again sample.

“A buddy might have named a bacterium after me from Outer Slobovia and that might have been an actual honor. … However it is a snake that I’ve labored on, so it’s totally significant to me,” he mentioned. “I am very honored.”

The Related Press contributed to this report. 

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