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NEW SPECIES

Shake It Off: Taylor Swift Is the Namesake of a Newly Discovered Millipede

Ellen Gutoskey
Taylor Swift at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.
Taylor Swift at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. / Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
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The word Swiftie describes a Taylor Swift stan. Swiftae, meanwhile, is the second half of the scientific name of a millipede recently christened in the singer’s honor.

As NPR reports, the full nomenclature is Nannaria swiftaeNannaria referring to a genus of millipedes commonly known as “twisted-claw millipedes.” This particular species was discovered at Fall Creek Falls State Park, which covers nearly 30,000 acres in central Tennessee. Though Swift launched her music career in the Volunteer State, that’s not why she was chosen as the arthropod’s namesake. The real reason? Because the entomologist who first spotted the new species, Derek Hennen, is a Swiftie himself.

Hennen told NPR that the name is a display of gratitude, as Swift’s songs have helped him weather “some rough times.” He seems to appreciate her new music as well as the older stuff: His top two tracks are “New Romantics,” from the 2014 album 1989; and “betty,” from 2020’s folklore. With its forest habitat and autumnal color scheme—chestnut brown body, outlined in orange—the “Swift Twisted-Claw Millipede” definitely emulates folklore over 1989

taylor swift millipede
Millipede (Taylor's version). / Derek A. Hennen, Jackson C. Means, Paul E. Marek; ZooKeys

It wasn’t the only new millipede species that Hennen identified during the search; he named another one Nannaria marianae in honor of his wife, Marian. In total, the excursion turned up 17 previously unknown millipede species, which Hennen and his fellow researchers, Jackson Means and Paul Marek, detailed in a paper published earlier this month in the journal ZooKeys

How Swift feels about adding “bug namesake” to her legacy remains to be seen, but she’s in good company: Lady Gaga had a treehopper named after her in 2020.

[h/t NPR]

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