Extinct lizard named after President Obama


The scientists who discovered and named Obamadon — the blue lizard in the foreground of this illustration — said the lizard’s “very tall, straight teeth” reminded them of the president’s. (Reuters)
January 4, 2013

President Barack Obama has a pretty cool life. He’s about to be sworn in for his second term as president of the United States. He gets to live in the White House and fly on Air Force One. And now he has a dinosaur named after him.

It just doesn’t get much cooler than that.

The recently discovered Obamadon gracillis is really more of a prehistoric lizard than a dinosaur. The scientists at Yale and Harvard universities who discovered the fossil came up with the name because the lizard reminded them of the president. They combined “Obamadon,” which means “Obama’s teeth” in Latin, with “gracillis,” which means “slender.”

“The lizard has these very tall, straight teeth, and Obama has these tall, straight incisors and a great smile,” says paleontologist Nick Longrich. Obamadon was probably about a foot long and ate insects, scientists say.

The country’s third president also has an extinct animal named after him. The Megalonyxx jeffersonii was named after Thomas Jefferson, who studied the mammal.


President Barack Obama’s smile reminded scientists of a prehistoric lizard they discovered. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
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