Millions of Swifties couldn’t take their eyes off of them on Monday (Aug. 21) and then again on Tuesday morning (Aug. 22): a pair of mysterious, slithery teaser clips posted on Taylor Swift‘s social media feeds. Are they snakes? Are they lizards? Are they a tease about a new album, a new single? Some sort of silent commentary on the news? Coded symbols representing some slimy person she can no longer trust?
WHAT ARE THEY????
At press time we still had no idea. But Billboard reached out to a pair of reptile experts to find out what they think it all might mean. “Both posts appear to be computer-generated imagery rather than actual organisms,” said David A. Steen Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History. The wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist with the popular @AlongsideWild twitter feed said the videos appear to show images of snakes or snake-like creatures, but he’s not certain what the artist intended.
“The first post seems to represent a reptilian tail, although others have noted that the morphology and movement is not quite right for any animal with a backbone. To my eye, the post from August 22nd seems to represent the body of a snake in a coiled position; however it appears as one part of the snake is moving independently of the other. This could either mean the artist intended there to be two snakes or perhaps it is not entirely biologically accurate. Of existing reptiles, this GIF reminds me most of Bush Vipers because of the upturned scales which create a relatively rough skin; however if you look closely at actual Bush Viper scales they are keeled (i.e., they have a ridge down their center) and the scales in Taylor Swift’s creature do not appear to have these keels.”
Pressed to name a snake that Taylor’s animal is closest to, Steen pointed to the venomous African Bush Viper (Atheris), whose venom is very potent and has the ability to kill as there is no known antivenom.
More specifically, according to Terry Phillip, curator of reptiles at Black Hills Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, South Dakota, it appears to be a Hairy Bush Viper (Atheris hispida). He said the small viper (normally 20 or so inches long) is typically found in Central Africa and its diet is “fairly exclusive to slugs.” Phillip added that the venom can lead to “heavy organ damage, internal bleeding with some minor neurtoxic effects present as well. Very cool little snakes! No Idea what she may be suggesting!”
Swift’s spokespeople have not returned requests for comment on what it all means.
The first video:
The second video.
So far the two clips have gotten more than 7.4 million views.