The First Gay President, who, someday in his third or fourth term, after helping to run the global economy into the sewer through massive US debt and hyperinflation, will get around to rolling back the oceans and solve global warming, now has a really dead lizard named “Obamadon”, to honor him.
This is in from Cosmic Logic of NBC:
The mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago also did in lots of lizards — including a newly identified creature that’s been named Obamadon gracilis in honor of President Barack Obama. [“Graceful Obama-toothed”. No… really.]
Obama already has a type of fish (Ethiostoma obama) [perhaps dog eating… not sure… no, that can’t be right… “etheo” + “stoma” would be “strainer-mouthed”] and lichen (Caloplaca obamae) [hmmm “beautiful” + … what… “scales”?] named after him, and now the recently re-elected leader of the free world can add a foot-long, slender-toothed casualty of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction to the list.
Yale paleontologist Nicholas Longrich, the lead author of a paper announcing the find in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, told me that the name arose from a conversation he had with a friend in late 2008, when folks were wondering how Obama’s election would change the political scene.
“I said, yeah, we should name a dinosaur after him,” Longrich said. “It was sort of a smart-ass comment.” [And yet, so serious.]
But the idea stuck. After all, this is the guy who named a different fossil “Mojoceratops.”
“It was catchy, and it seemed like a fun thing to do,” he said.
There’s a serious point behind the paper, of course: Longrich and his colleagues analyzed at fossils representing 30 different types of snakes and lizards, previously collected from locales in western North America ranging from New Mexico to Alberta. [From Canada to the southern USA? Not unlike an extinct oil-pipe line. A pipe-line that might have carried within it even the remains of Obamadontes! The irony is like rich, freshly frakked, crude.] Nine of the species, including Obamadon, were previously unrecognized.
“Lizards and snakes rivaled the dinosaurs in terms of diversity, [And thus worthy of a special White House un-elected czar!] making it just as much an ‘Age of Lizards’ as an ‘Age of Dinosaurs,'” Longrich said in a Yale news release.
Previous studies had suggested that some snake and lizard species went extinct, along with the dinosaurs and many types of mammals, birds, insects and plants. The extinction was presumably due to a catastrophic asteroid strike on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. [Which is now being depopulated and is increasing the voter base of a certain party to the north.]
The new survey suggests that snakes and lizards were hit much harder than previously thought. Longrich and his colleagues estimate that up to 83 percent of all snake and lizard species were killed off. The bigger the creature, the more likely it was to become extinct: [sigh] The researchers concluded that no species weighing more than a pound survived.
Obamadon was part of a group of creatures known as polyglyphanodonts, [Something having to do with teeth with more than one point. You humans, for example, have “bi-cuspids”, which make you “polyglyphandonts”. Therefore, if you voted for Obama, you are probably small extinct lizards.] which accounted for up to 40 percent of the lizards living in North America before the extinction. Obama’s namesake was identified on the basis of jaw fossils from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation, with “tall, slender teeth with large central cusps separated from small accessory cusps by lingual grooves.”
The lizard was less than a foot long and probably caught insects in its teeth, Longrich said. [But did they play lots of golf?]
The discovery of Obamadon just goes to show how new discoveries can come from old specimens — including fossils that were collected years ago, by paleontologists who were focusing dinosaurs or early mammals rather than snakes or lizards. “There hasn’t been a heck of a lot of interest in these specimens,” Longrich said. [Say it ain’t so!] “Here we have all this data that’s there, waiting to be studied.”
Two of the newly recognized fossil species don’t yet have scientific names, [I can see the combox now… oh my… I’ll flip a coin… Leave the combox open, heads, closed, tails…] but when it comes time for the naming, rest assured that Longrich won’t come up with anything too wild and crazy.
“We decided not to do the Hitlerosaurus,” he said.
Which it’s not as interesting as Testudo aubreii, that noble reptile.
I, for one, will not well-come our third-term lichen-covered, mouth-straining, lizard-like overlords.
Perhaps I am just jealous that there is no lethal virus or perhaps hitherto unknown chickadee named after me.