Scientists name new millipede species after Taylor Swift

Scientists name new millipede species after Taylor Swift
Credit: Belga/Canva

Scientists at the University of Virginia have named a new species of millipede after the singer Taylor Swift. The 22-centimetre-long animal was named "Nannaria swiftae" or "Swift Twisted-Claw Millipede".

One of the three researchers who spent five years searching for new species and discovered the new millipede, Derek Hennen, announced the news on Twitter.

"This new millipede species is Nannaria swiftae: I named it after Taylor Swift. I'm a big fan of her music, so I wanted to show my appreciation by naming this new species from Tennessee after her. A high honour!" he wrote.

The new research paper is presenting 17 new species of Twisted-Claw Millipedes from Appalachia and was published in the journal Zookeys.

"These millipedes are tough to find, but we persevered and found 17 new species! With this paper, we've increased the number of species in the genus to a whopping 78, up from just 23 before we started working on the genus," Hennen said.

The new species are identified by the morphology of the male's modified legs — which they use for sex — as well as their genetics by extracting DNA and building phylogenies.

Hennen added that a number of these new species have very small distributions — in some cases, only known from one or two spots — making them vulnerable to extinction via habitat loss as a result of climate change and human development, among others.

"It's important to document these species before it's too late," he said.

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