A new species of millipede has grabbed a lot of attention due to a unique name given to it. The name was given by the lead scientist for the research, Derek Hennen.
He had been a super fan of Taylor Swift. Therefore, he named the new species of millipede in her honor. “Her music helped me get through the highs and lows of graduate school, so naming a new millipede species after her is my way of saying thanks,” he says.
Nannaria swiftae, a twisted-claw millipede, is one of 16 new species described from the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. These little-known invertebrates play an important function as decomposers, releasing nutrients into the ecosystem when they break down leaf litter.
The newly described millipedes have shiny caramel-brown to black bodies with white, red, or orange markings and white legs, and are 18 to 38 mm long. The common name comes from the fact that males have short, bent, and flattened claws on their anterior legs.
Moreover, they feed on decaying leaves and other plant materials on the forest floor. Also, they can be difficult to catch since they like to stay buried in the soil, sometimes almost entirely beneath the surface.
Specifically for this research, the scientists traveled to 17 U.S. States checking under leaf litter, rocks, and logs to find species so that they could sequence their DNA and scientifically describe them.
The scientists described 17 new species based on almost 1,800 specimens obtained during their field investigation. One species was also named after Hennen’s wife, as Nannaria marianae.
Further in the research the scientists determined that millipedes prefer forested settings near streams and are frequently found buried beneath the soil.