By leaking documents related to the government surveillance program in 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden changed the discourse surrounding privacy in America. He was also forced to flee the country, and was called everything from a hero to traitor. Now, Snowden is being honored for his act in a rather unusual way: His very own namesake crustacean.
German researcher Christian Lukhaup, who discovered the new crayfish species in West Papau, Indonesia, is firmly on Snowden's side. He tells the scientific journal ZooKeys that his choice of name is meant to show honor and respect for Snowden, whom he calls an "American freedom fighter."
And Lukhaup—who recently named the seemingly tie-dyed Cherax pulcher—makes clear to the Washington Post that Cherax snowden was not chosen on a whim. "After describing a couple new species, I thought about naming one after Edward Snowden because he really impressed me," Lukhaup says. "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."
Lukhap also points out the symbolic similarities between Snowden and Cherax snowden. "A crayfish is a powerful species; it's protected by a very hard shell, plus it has two very effective chelae, the pincers, and even if they are tiny, [they] can hurt a lot," Lukhaup tells the Post. "A crayfish lives under a rock. It has to hide from his enemies and he comes out in the night and he hunts, and he is protected by a shell."