'Obamadon': Extinct Lizard Named in Honor of POTUS

Scientists from Yale and Harvard named a newly identified species of extinct lizard Obamadon gracilis in honor of President Obama.

A team of scientists wrote a study examining how an asteroid strike 65 million years ago led to the extinction of many lizard and snake species. While the massive impact in the area now known as the Yucatan peninsula is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs, its effect on lizards and snakes is not as widely known.

In order to conduct the study, researchers examined fossil collections covering the area from New Mexico up to Alberta, Canada. During this process they identified nine previously unknown species of lizards and snakes. One of these—perhaps a foot long with skinny, pointed teeth—they named Obamadon gracilis. The lizard is known from the remnants of a few jawbones.

The authors conclude that upwards of 80 percent of lizard and snake species died out as a result of the asteroid strike. As for the name, they claim there was no political message behind it: "We're just having fun with taxonomy."


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