The rule of scientific taxonomy is that if you discover something, you get to name it–providing that you follow certain guidelines. This applies to everything from species of bacteria to asteroids.
Luis Ceríaco is a biologist working with a group of American and Portuguese researchers on Bioko Island in the Gulf of Guinea (that’s off the west coast of equatorial Africa) when he found a previously-unknown type of venomous snake. A bush viper, actually.
I quote: “The newly described species presents a series of morphological characters that clearly differentiate it from all of its congeners.” Oh, and it’s really, really poisonous.
And there’s more. “[It has a] triangular-shaped head and strongly-keeled scales, which gives them a dragon-like appearance, which certainly is consonant with the image of a singer of a Heavy Metal band.”
Ceriaco, in case you haven’t guessed, is a metalhead. He has chosen to call this snake Atheris hetfieldi.
This is hardly the first time since Metallica has been memorialized this way. Earlier this year, the band’s name was attached to Macrostylis metallicola, a crustacean found deep in the Pacific. And there’s also Metallichneumon neurospastarchus (a nasty wasp).
For more organisms names after famous people, go here.