"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"
This what the archeologist/adventurer character Indiana Jones says in the 1981 film The Raiders Of The Lost Ark, as he is trying to recover a major artifact. But that is just a movie!
It is named after him!
Found in Peru
The newly discovered snake species, named Tachymenoides harrisonfordi, was found in Peru, in Otishi National Park. A team of researchers traveled to the southern part of the park, which they call "Peru's least scientifically surveyed national park" in their study.
This is an area so remote that they had to travel there by military helicopter, bringing enough supplies to last three to four weeks. In fact, their journey almost sounds a lot like one of Indiana Jones' own adventures! (The opening scene in Raiders has Indiana searching a lost Peruvian temple for a golden idol.)
It is easy to understand why there would be undiscovered species living there. In addition to the discovery of the yellow and brown, 40 cm (16in) long snake, they also found a new species of lizard and an unmapped waterfall. Cool!
Bring attention to the cause
But of course, the most newsworthy part of their adventures is naming the snake for Ford. Lead researcher, Dr. Edgar Lehr of Illinois Wesleyan University, is a herpetologist (a reptile and amphibian expert) who has helped discover over 100 new species.
In an interview with CNN, he said that he thought that it would be "cool" and "funny" to include the actor. Not only did Jones hate snakes, but Ford in real life is a dedicated environmentalist and animal conservationalist. He is even the vice chair of the board of directors for nonprofit Conservation International. Ford also already has an ant (Pheidole harrisonfordi) and a spider (Calponia harrisonfordi) named after him.
Lehr hopes that using the Star Wars star's name would help people talk a little more about about the issue of biodiversity (keeping a variety of animal species alive and thriving). And the actor is very flattered!
"This discovery is humbling,” he said in a statement. “It’s a reminder that there’s still so much to learn about our wild world—and that humans are one small part of an impossibly vast biosphere. ... We have an existential mandate to mend our broken relationship with nature and protect the places that sustain life.”