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Taylor Swift Gets A New Species Of Millipede Named After Her

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Taylor Swift has one of the biggest music careers of all time, but she now has something very tiny named after her.

The newly discovered Nannaria swiftae ― a brown and orange millipede discovered in a Tennessee forest ― got its name honoring the 11-time Grammy winner thanks to the Swift-loving scientist who identified it.

“I’m a big fan of Taylor’s music, and I listened to her music a lot during graduate school,” entomologist Derek Hennen told HuffPost on Monday. “It brought me joy and helped me through some difficult times, so I wanted to show my appreciation. Since this new species is from Tennessee and she lived in Tennessee for a while, I thought it was a nice fit.”

The wriggly arthropod, which will also go by the common name of Swift twisted-claw millipede, is one of 17 new species revealed in a study published last week by Hennen and other researchers at Virginia Tech.

The explanation for the name is included in the study, which says the millipede was named in recognition of Swift’s “talent as a songwriter and performer and in appreciation of the enjoyment her music” brought to Hennen.

We can’t help but see some similarities between the Nannaria swiftae and the singer’s “Evermore” album cover, where Swift’s plaid coat echoes the color palette of the bug and she rocks a French braid that doesn’t not look like a millipede.

She hasn’t spoken up about her eponymous bug yet, but Hennen is hopeful she appreciates what a tribute this is.

“I know not everyone likes bugs quite as much as I do, but I hope she thinks it’s a nice gesture,” he said. “For us scientists, we consider it a huge honor to have a species named after you, and I hope she feels the same way.”

It’s hard to pick just one favorite Swift song, Hennen said, but currently it’s “either ‘Betty’ from her ‘Folklore’ album or ‘New Romantics’ from ‘1989.’”

“I know not everyone likes bugs quite as much as I do, but I hope she thinks it’s a nice gesture,” entomologist Derek Hennen said.

Evan Agostini/Invision via Associated Press

The singer’s namesake millipede was “collected in mesic forests with hemlock, maple, oak, tuliptree, witch hazel, and pine” ― and if that’s not fodder for lyrics on a “Folklore” or “Evermore” bonus track, we don’t know what is.

Hennen and his team have played a huge role in expanding the number of species in the Nannaria wilsoni genus of millipedes, which thrive in Appalachia’s moist valleys.

“In the past two years, my colleagues and I have described 54 new species in the genus, which now has 78 species!” he wrote in an email to HuffPost. “These millipedes aren’t as large and flashy as others in the family Xystodesmidae, commonly known as the cherry millipedes, due to their chemical defenses, which smell like cherries or almonds.”

The Nannaria swiftae looks similar to other twisted-claw millipedes, Hennen explained, but is differentiated by modified legs on the males.

Millipedes may be tiny ― the ones in this genus are only about half an inch to 1½ inches (15 to 38 millimeters) long ― but they play a key role in the forest ecosystem. They’re responsible for breaking down organic matter on the forest floor, such as dead leaves, preventing it from piling up and helping nutrients and carbon cycle through living and non-living parts of the ecosystem. They also play an important role in loosening soil as they burrow small tunnels.

Lucky for the Swift-named millipede, it’s residing in a pretty safe habitat.

“One of the places we found the millipede is a state park, which is great for conservation purposes because that means the millipede has protected land to live on,” Hennen said. “We worry about the survival of some of these millipede species with small distributions because if their habitat disappears, they don’t have many other places to go.”

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