Taylor Swift inspired an entomologist to name a new species of centipede after the megastar – KION546

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By Megan Marples, CNN

Taylor Swift has countless Grammys and American Music Awards, but this new honor will be a first for the global pop star.

A newly discovered species of millipede is named after Swift, according to a study published in the journal ZooKeys. It’s called Nannaria swiftae, or Swift’s crooked-clawed centipede.

The study’s lead author, Derek Hennen, is a self-proclaimed Swiftie and wanted to honor the singer. He was a doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg at the time of the research.

“His music got me through some tough times, and it’s kind of a nice little thank you that I can give for the joy his music has brought me,” Hennen said.

Hennen found the Appalachian Centipede in Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee, the same state Swift moved to as a teenager to pursue her singing career.

If Swift hears about the naming, Hennen hopes she’ll be happy and take the opportunity to learn more about the centipede.

“For a scientist to name a species after someone is supposed to be an honor, so I hope she views it positively,” he said.

It’s a “pretty” centipede with a brown color and red-orange spots on the sides, Hennen said.

Paul Marek, an associate professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology and official Jackson Means PhD candidate at Virginia Tech, traveled with Hennen to 17 states from 2015 to 2019 and found 17 new centipede species.

“It’s funny because when I started, it was like, ‘Wow! A new species!’ but after a few years it’s like, “We’ve got another new species of centipede, throw it in the heap,” Hennen said.

Centipedes are one of the lesser-known creatures because they aren’t as flashy as butterflies or dragonflies, which is why so many new species are being discovered, he said.

These insects prefer wild habitats and are important in the nutrient cycling process, Hennen said. Millipedes act as “leaf recyclers,” eating dead plants and pooping, thereby fertilizing the soil, he explained.

Another Special Centipede

Swift isn’t the only person to name Hennen a centipede discovery after her. Hennen named another new species Nannaria marianae, also known as the Maple Flats twist-claw centipede, after his wife, Marian.

During their walks together, his wife waited patiently while Hennen searched for centipedes, which happened on almost every outing, he said.

“She was next to me all the time while I was working on my doctorate. and gave me a lot of love and support, and it’s my way of showing my love and support for her,” Hennen said.

Celebrity Hall of Fame

Other celebrities have had an animal or plant named after them.

  • Drag queen RuPaul had a rainbow-colored fly, Opaluma rupaul, named after her.
  • A bee fly found in Australia has been named Paramonovius nightking, after the Night King in Game of Thrones.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio had a tree, Uvariopsis dicaprio, named after him for his conservation efforts.
  • Australian scientists have named a number of new species after Marvel characters, including Thor. The scientific name for the fly species is Daptolestes bronteflavus, the second word translating to “blonde thunder”.
  • Many other pets are named after celebrities like Dolly Parton and Lady Gaga. Parton had a lichen named after her called Japewiella dollypartoniana and Gaga had an entire plant genus named monstraparva, also known by its DNA sequence name, GAGA.

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