New species of crayfish named after Edward Snowden


Edward Snowden is best known as the man who blew the whistle on the US National Security Agency’s surveillance activity, but thanks to researchers at the Humboldt University of Berlin, he now has another claim to fame – as the namesake for a new species of crayfish.

The new species, which is described in a recent edition of the journal ZooKeys, has been named the Cherax snowden and was found in the freshwater tributary creeks in West Papau, Indonesia, by German scientist Christian Lukhaup and his colleagues, The Washington Post reported.

So what made him Lukhaup name this new creature after Snowden, who leaked top-secret NSA documents to a trio of journalists back in 2013, exposing the agency’s surveillance program? He wrote that it was because he viewed the controversial figure as an “American freedom fighter.”

“After describing a couple new species, I thought about naming one after Edward Snowden because he really impressed me,” he told the newspaper. “We have so many species named after other famous people who probably don’t do so much for humanity. I wanted to show support for Edward Snowden. I think what he did is something very special.”

Gathering information about this new crawfish species

Unusual name aside, the new creature is pretty distinctive. It has an orange to greenish-orange motley tip and was collected by locals for ornamental purposes, the researchers said in a statement. Male members of the species measure between three to four inches in length, while females are about three inches long, and both have green pincers with orange tips.

According to The Washington Post, Lukhaup initially encountered the Cherax snowdens in 2006 thanks to a collector from Kepala Burung, but it wasn’t until earlier this year when he and his co-authors obtained additional specimens from an online store in Germany. After they acquired the new specimens, they extracted DNA from its muscle tissue to learn more about the creature.

However, the researchers emphasized that “the continued collection of these crayfish for the trade is not a sustainable practice, and if the popularity of the species continues, a conservation management plan will have to be developed, potentially including a captive breeding program.”


(Image credit: Christian Lukhaup)