Scientists from Harvard and Yale universities have named a new species of an extinct lizard after President Barack Obama, dubbing it "Obamadon gracilis." (Photo : Reuters, Wikimedia Commons)
Whether or not President Obama will make it to Mount Rushmore is debatable...but he'll have at least one lasting historical artifact that will pay him homage.
Scientists have named an extinct lizard, which died out 65 million years ago, after President Obama. The fossil of what scientists dub Obamadon gracilis, a small insect-eating lizard, was discovered by scientists at Yale and Harvard universities after they re-examined fossil collections from across the country, according to the Boston Globe.
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According to Nicholas Longrich, a Yale paleontologist, the team had been restudying the fossils in order to find out what killed the dinosaurs. In the process, they had discovered several new species that were not previously known to the scientific community.
The lizard bearing President Obama's name is described as being a small creature with a slender jaw. However, as Longrich told the Globe, the naming of the lizard after the president almost didn't happen.
"I was seriously thinking, if the election had gone the other way, I would have yanked it," Longrich said. "It might have seemed like we were mocking it, naming a lizard that goes extinct after that, seemed kind of cruel."
But aside from paying tribute to President Obama, the research team's findings, published Monday in the science journal titled the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, believes that lizards and snakes may not have been as fortunate in surviving the extinction of dinosaurs--long thought to have been triggered by an enormous Chicxulub asteroid crash-landing to Earth--as scientists believed.
"This is a bit speculative, but the ecosystem basically collapses when there's not enough sunlight to make new leaves. No new plants growing, everything kind of starves, and in that situation I would imagine, maybe what you've got going on is dead, rotting plant material, dying, rotting dinosaurs, and probably a lot of maggots and beetles and grubs that are eating all that dead material," Longrich said. "Animals that can eat the insects are maybe what's surviving, so insectivores which tend to be smaller" can survive.
While small lizards and snakes may have gotten lucky, Longrich's team theorizes that at least 83 percent of snakes and lizards may have died during the extinction.
"The lizards that dominate today get their start after the extinction-they radiate in the aftermath," Longrich said, according to Yahoo! News. "But that said, the radiation takes a long time."