New crayfish species named after Edward Snowden

26 Aug 2015

Image of Cherax snowden via Lukhaup C et al

While bearing absolutely no resemblance to the former NSA contracter-turned-whistleblower, a recently discovered species of crayfish has been dubbed Cherax Snowden, in Edward Snowden’s honour.

While continuing to fight for privacy rights of individuals online from his secure location in Russia, Edward Snowden now at least has someone – or something – providing a namesake distraction, at least on the bottom of rivers of New Guinea.

The discovery of the new colourful crayfish species that has a turquoise and orange shell is believed to have been known to locals for some time, but has been mistaken for other species in the Cherax genus, according to Sci-News.

Publishing its findings in the online journal ZooKeys, the team led by Chirstian Lukhaup believes the species has been sold across the world for decades – even in the team’s native Germany – but has been wrongly identified.

From its research, it was able to distinguish that it is its own species due to the obvious differences in the shape of its body and its distinct colour, as well as giving evidence of distinct genetic differences with other members of the Cherax genus.

Just like Snowden, it’s being hunted to extinction

Explaining in its paper its inspiration for the name of the species, which scuttles along the riverbeds of New Guinea, the team said: “The new species is named after the American freedom fighter Edward Joseph Snowden. He is honoured due to his extraordinary achievements in defence of justice, and freedom.”

However, just like the real Edward Snowden, Cherax Snowden is being hunted, possibly close to extinction, by local traders looking to sell the exotic species.

“As Cherax Snowden is collected in large numbers for the global aquarium trade, as well as for food for the growing local population, the crayfish population will invariably be adversely impacted,” the team wrote.

“According to local collectors, the populations of the species have been decreasing in the last few years.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic