​New species of crayfish discovered in Indonesia named after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Cherax snowden, a newly classified species found in Papua’s Sawiat District. Photo: Christian Lukhaup.

Edward Snowden is famous for leaking information from the United State’s National Security Agency, a daring move that revealed the US government’s massive surveillance programs used to monitor people all over the globe. It also forced him to flee the US and ensured that he could never return to his homeland without being arrested (he is currently hiding out in an undisclosed location in Russia).

For his sacrifice, Snowden has been called both a hero and a traitor. And now he has a really cool looking crayfish named after him.

The Cherax snowden was discovered in the Oinsok River located in the Sawiat District in the central part of the Kepala Burung Peninsula in West Papua. One was captured by a local collector and eventually made it’s way to an aquarium in Germany where it was identified by Christian Lukhaup from the Humboldt University of Berlin and colleagues as a distinct species of crayfish that had never been classified before.

“The new species is named after the American freedom fighter Edward Joseph Snowden. He is honored due to of his extraordinary achievements in defense of justice, and freedom,” Lukhaup and his co-authors wrote in the paper announcing their discovery of the species, published in the journal Zookeys.

Like the human Snowden, many of the the snowden crayfish are kept in captivity. The paper by Lukhaup warns that the uniquely colored species may be becoming too popular with aquarium collectors which could threaten their long-term survival if conservation programs are not put in place.

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