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Obamadon: Rare Extinct Lizard Name Inspired By President Barack Obama

Dec 11, 2012 04:08 PM EST
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Obamadon is the new name given to a recently discover ancient, tiny lizards that is the size a boa constrictor, six-foot long iguanas, that lived in the last days of the dinosaurs, according to the Boston Globe.

President Barack Obama has been given the rare honor by scientists from Harvard and Yale universities by having the foot-long fossilized reptile christened with the name, Obamadon gracilis. The extinct lizard was found in northeastern Montana and went extinct about 65 million years ago.

"Lizards and snakes rivaled the dinosaurs in terms of diversity, making it just as much an 'Age of Lizards' as an 'Age of Dinosaurs,'" explained Nicholas R. Longrich, a postdoctoral associate with Yale's Department of Geology and Geophysics, who named Obamadon.

The name comes from Latin: odon means "tooth" and gracilis means "slender."

"It is a small polyglyphanodontian [one of the most diverse lizard branches] distinguished by tall, slender teeth with large central cusps separated from small accessory cusps by lingual grooves," the researchers write of Obamadon, which is known primarily from the jaw bones of two specimens. Longrich said the creature likely measured less than one foot long and probably ate insects.

The decision to name it came before the election, paleontologist Nicholas Longrich told the newspaper, adding that "I was seriously thinking, if the election had gone the other way, I would have yanked it."

"It might have seemed like we were mocking it, naming a lizard that goes extinct after that, seemed kind of cruel," he added.

A newly discovered species of fish called Etheostoma Obama and a lichen named Caloplaca obamae, were also named after President Barack Obama. 

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