There is perhaps no one more experienced in the art of mixed media tribute than Taylor Swift. His iconic breakup songs pay homage, in a way, but in a way their muses might be hesitant to identify with. It therefore seems appropriate that a newly identified millipede species, Nannaria Swiftaewas named for the singer in a beautiful gesture that’s also a little creepy — or at the very least, creepy.
The crooked-clawed millipede, native to Tennessee, is one of 17 new species identified in a research paper that reviewed some 1,800 insect specimens from field studies as well as university collections. and museums. Derek Hennen, an entomologist at Virginia Tech, spent five years studying this subset of insect life in Tennessee, along with co-authors Jackson C. Means and Paul E. Marek.
“Her music got me through the ups and downs of grad school, so naming a new species of centipede after her is my way of saying thank you,” Hennen said in a Tweeter.
Hennen also named another new species, Nannaria marianae, after his wife – surely to avoid the kind of jealousy common to pop stars and wives of myriapodologists. Species within the Nannaria wilsoni group loves the wet Appalachian valleys, and they don’t stray far from the mountains, according to Hennen.
“It meant I had to explore beautiful rhododendron groves and similar habitats,” Hennan tweeted. Although their subjects have been difficult to find, with the publication of this article the research team has increased the number of species in the genus to 78, from only 23 before their work on the genus. (Or as Swift would say, They never painted by the numbers, baby, but they make it count.)
As far as fan tributes go, it goes above asking for an autograph on the goosebumps scale, and below creating a sanctuary in your closet. Nevertheless, the dedication of the research team is to be commended. As for amateur entomologists who might encounter Nannaria Swiftae crawl on it in the future, keep calm and shake it, shake it!