A Millipede Named After Taylor Swift, and 21 Other Newly Described Species

As taxonomists fill in the blank spaces on the web of life, they sometimes indulge in a little fandom. Such is the case in the matter of Nannaria swiftae, a newly described millipede named after American singer/songwriter Taylor Swift.

Nannaria swiftae is one of 17 new millipede species described this year, all of which live in the Appalachian Mountains, an ancient range of peaks that stretches along the North American eastern continental divide. Derek Hennan is the lead author of the paper that describes and details Nannaria swiftae, and he happens to be a lover of Taylor Swift’s music.

Hennen collected samples of the new millipede from various locations across Tennessee. The state, as any Swiftie knows all too well, is where the iconic performer spent many years writing and recording some of her biggest hits.

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Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee. One of the locations Nannaria swiftae occurs. Photo: Jonathan Percy/Shutterstock

 

In the paper, Dr. Hennen lays out his case for a separate species. He states that Nannaria swiftae has an “Acropodite medial flange lobed and with two small bumps, not simply lobed as in N. austricola or with a thin, acuminate triangular process as in N. scutellaria. Acropodite tip medial flange absent, rather than lobed as in N. austricola or triangular as in N. scutellaria.”

In other words, he’s saying that Nannaria swiftae is a distinct species from similar millipedes — they do not belong with each other. At some point, they diverged, and they are never ever getting back together.

Perhaps to avoid any bad blood, Dr. Hennen also named a new millipede species after his wife.

More new species described in 2022

As Discover Wildlife reported, researchers have found more new critters than just millipedes this year. And some of the animals seem straight out of Darwin’s wildest dreams.

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The Tara River, Montenegro. Scientists discovered a new species of giant slug while rafting this river. Photo: Lavinia Mazdul/Shutterstock

 

New species of snakes, frogs, trees, giant salamanders, fish, orchids, scorpions, and — our favorite — giant slugs all received their spot in the limelight. The giant keelback slug (Limax pseudocinereoniger) is 20cm long. If that slug happened to, say, drop on your head during a rafting expedition through Tara Canyon in Montenegro (where scientists first discovered it), it might be hard to shake off.