Well it was just a matter of time before some commie scientists named an extinct animal after the 44th president of the United States. Obamadon gracilis is the name, and the foot-long creature — which was discovered in a fossil bed in Montana — has been extinct for about 65 million years. And ironically, its extinction may indicate that paleolithic changes in climate affected animals differently than previously believed.
Paleontologist Nicholas Longrich explains that scientists are now rethinking the idea that the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs spared smaller lizards like Obamadon:
“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. … “The lizards that dominate today get their start after the extinction—they radiate in the aftermath,” Longrich said. “But that said, the radiation takes a long time. Mammals bounce back really fast and gain ground,” and reptiles never regain their niche.
Luckily — for science, and probably other disciplines as well — Obamadon’s namesake is still around for four more years. Or until we cause an extinction event like the prehistoric world could only dream of.
Yale scientists name Obamadon, a slender-jawed lizard, after the President, Boston Globe.
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