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New species of poisonous African bush gravel are named after Metallica's James Hetfield


A new species of venomous snake discovered in Africa was named in honor of Metallica front man James Hetfield.

Researchers say the African bush gravel has a triangular head and a kite-like appearance that reflects the image of the musician.

They gave it the scientific name Atheris hetfieldi.

The reptile can grow up to 20 inches long and is covered in heavily keeled or fluted scales.

It was first observed in the early 1900s, but its taxonomy "was never fully resolved".

Researchers say the African bush gravel has a triangular head and a kite-like experience that reflects the image of the musician

"[It] gives them a kite-like appearance that certainly matches the image of a singer in a heavy metal band," wrote Luis Ceríaco, herpetology curator at the National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon, in a report this month in the magazine Zootaxa.

According to Ceríaco, Atheris hetfieldi lives at the foot of a volcano on Bioko, an island about 32 km off the coast of West Africa.

After examining specimens, Ceríaco wrote, his team found that the newly described species has a number of morphological features that clearly distinguish it from any other bush gravel found on the island.

This is the first new species of snake found on Bioko in more than 100 years – and the only one recognized as endemic to the island, Ceríaco said.

Metallica front man James Hetfield. "We wanted to honor him as a thank you for all the good mood his music has given us throughout our personal lives and careers," said Luis Ceríaco, curator of herpetology at the National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon

Metallica front man James Hetfield. "We wanted to honor him as a thank you for all the good mood his music has given us throughout our personal lives and careers," said Luis Ceríaco, curator of herpetology at the National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon

The reptile's scientific name is Atheris hetfieldi, which can grow up to 20 inches long and is covered in heavily keeled or fluted scales

The reptile's scientific name is Atheris hetfieldi, which can grow up to 20 inches long and is covered in heavily keeled or fluted scales

He and Mariana Marques, the newspaper's second author, have been Metallica since childhood.

"We wanted to honor him as a thank you for all the good vibes his music has given us throughout our personal lives and careers," he told Metal Hammer.

"We also think that a mysterious, poisonous and cool-looking snake that lives on the base of a volcano that is lost in the middle of a tropical forest is very capable of heavy metals!"

A bite from an African bush gravel can cause pain, swelling, and at least in some cases, death

A bite from an African bush gravel can cause pain, swelling, and at least in some cases, death

A bite from an African bush gravel can cause pain, swelling, and at least in some cases, death.

An antidote specific to atheris has never been developed.

Ceriaco hopes the high profile taxonomy will "pay more attention to much-needed biodiversity and field studies".

"We are in a race against extinction of much of the world's biodiversity, and many species could become extinct before we even know they exist!"

This isn't the first cold-blooded creature named after the Grammy-winning rockers.

A tiny worm-like crustacean that lives 16,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean was christened Macrostylis metallicola in February.

A new species of venomous snake discovered in Africa was named in honor of Metallica front man James Hetfield

A new species of venomous snake discovered in Africa was named in honor of Metallica front man James Hetfield

"Metallica's powerful music has accompanied me for most of my life," said deep sea scientist Torben Riehl from the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt.

In 2017 a crocodile fossil from the Jurassic period was named after Motorhead frontman Lemmy.

That same year, Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster was the inspiration for Websteroprion armstrongi, a type of giant prehistoric worm discovered in Canada.