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Taylor Swift Just Got a Twisted-Claw Millipede Named After Her

Even though it can't sing.

nannaria-swiftae-photo-pr
Nannaria swiftae is named as a tribute to singer Taylor Swift.
Derek Hennen

When you think of Taylor Swift, you think of a many-legged invertebrate that breaks down leaves, right? Well, you will now. A team of researchers has honored the pop music icon by naming a twisted-claw millipede after her.  

The Virginia Tech researchers published a study in the journal Zookeys last week describing the Nannaria swiftae millipede alongside 16 other newly discovered species found in the Appalachian Mountains in the US. The twisted-claw part of the common name is a reference to (you guessed it) twisted claws on the legs of males. 

The study's authors mention why they honored Swift with a millipede, "in recognition of her talent as a songwriter and performer and in appreciation of the enjoyment her music has brought DAH [lead author Derek A. Hennen]." Hennen said Swift's music helped get him through the highs and lows of graduate school. Hennen also named another millipede -- Nannaria marianae -- after his wife, Marian Winsor Hennen. 

Millipedes can be challenging to study. "They live on the forest floor, where they feed on decaying leaves and other plant matter, and in fact, they are somewhat tricky to catch, because they tend to remain buried in the soil, sometimes staying completely beneath the surface," said Zookeys publisher Pensoft in a statement on Monday. 

The researchers examined millipedes in collections, raked through leaf litter and dug into soil to identify the species described in the paper. So perhaps you could say the scientists had to "shake it off" a bit to find these fascinating and elusive arthropods that now have official names.