BLACKSBURG, Va. — Music superstar Taylor Swift has a new fan — one that’s one inch tall and has dozens of legs! “Swifties” at Virginia Tech have named a new species of millipede in the singer’s honor.
A group of scientists named the insect after her because the lead author of the study is a fan of Taylor Swift.
Swiftae among many new American bugs discovered
The Nannaria swiftae is a twisted-claw millipede that is one of 16 other new species uncovered from the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. Unlike Taylor’s golden locks, the millipedes have shiny caramel-brown to black bodies with white, red, or orange spots, and have white legs. These invertebrates are decomposers, meaning they break down leaf litter and release nutrients into their surrounding environment. Found on the forest floor, this species is difficult to find because they are frequently underneath the soil, staying completely hidden.
The team searched and collected new specimens of millipedes across 17 states in the eastern United States for multiple years. They rifled through leaf litter, rocks, and logs to find species and sequence their DNA to describe them.
Their search wasn’t in vain. They collected over 1,800 specimens and identified 17 new species. The team also named a separate insect Nannaria marianae after Dr. Hennen’s wife. The new species has a preference for forests near streams and typically live under the soil. The millipedes range between 18 and 38 mm long. Males are different from females anatomically as they have small, twisted, and flattened claws on their front legs.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Grammy award winner decides to add her newest insect fan into a future song.
The study is published in the journal ZooKeys.