Newly discovered species of venomous snake named after Metallica’s James Hetfield

Posted by on August 31, 2020


A newly discovered species of a snake has been named after Metallica frontman James Hetfield. 

The venomous “Atheris hetfieldi” was discovered by a group of scientists led by Dr. Luis Ceriaco and Mariana Marques on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea at the base of a volcano. A species of African Bush Viper, it’s defining features include a triangular head and strongly-keeled scales that “gives them a dragon-like appearance.” The snake can grow up to 52cm long.

Said Dr. Ceriaco and Marques, who are self-proclaimed big fans of metal and Metallica, to Metal Hammer, “We wanted to honour him [Hetfield], as a thank you for all the good vibes his music has transmitted to us during all of our personal lives and careers.”

“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!,” they continue. “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!”

“Atheris hetfieldi” is the first discovery made on Bioko Island in more than 100 years.

Having a snake named after Hetfield is very fitting, as the reptile has been a staple of his and Metallica’s imagery for decades. Inspired by the US Gadsden Flag and its coiled snake, the band used that image on the cover of their 1991 self-titled album. A signature guitar created by ESP Guitars for Hetfield, dubbed the “Snakebyte,” features a snake inlay on the neck.

This isn’t the first newly discovered species named after Metallica in the last year. In February, the band was honored by a group of scientists who found a worm-like deep sea crustacean under the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico when they decided to call their discovery “Macrostylis metallicola.”

Metallica released their new live album, ‘S&M 2,” on August 28. The album was recorded during the band’s ‘S&M’ 20th anniversary shows with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from September 2019. 

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