2009 was sure a long time ago. Back then, President Barack Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize for nothing more than his inauguration speech. Exuberant voters ignored his vaccine-causes-autism believer, the many UFO-believers and the guy who thought girls couldn't do math on his transition team. Even naming a Doomsday Prophet as Science Czar was cheered.
No more. Today, he is only getting a lizard named after him - and the researchers even waited until after the election because they weren't sure how things would go. They couldn't very well name the thing after Romney, voting Republican is the kiss of death for post-docs in academia, and the corresponding researcher, Yale's Dr. Nicholas R. Longrich, assured Reuters he is a loyal Democrat, in case anyone reads Reuters. In another statement he oddly said no one should place any political significance on the name: "We're just having fun with taxonomy", around the same time he insisted naming it after Romney had he won was "out of the question".
Republicans only get slime mold beetles named after them. They seem to have money so perhaps they should use some of it on better public relations.
It all worked out. Obamadon gracilis waited 145 million years to be discovered by humans so another month didn't hurt. Heck, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, who has lobbied aggressively for making illegal aliens legal, hired an illegal alien sex offender and managed to get Homeland Security to delay the arrest until after Election Day. Good thing too, no one wanted to be distracted from deciding a president based on a tropical storm.
Obamadon gracilis even provided the subtle benefit of a much easier trail than all of that digging and sweating it usually takes to find fossils - they found it in a box, misidentified as Leptochamops denticulatus. Presto, discovery!
How did it die? Yale and Harvard academics can be a little more objective there. They hypothesize that the asteroid which hit the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, while commonly known to have had the biggest impact on dinosaurs, was harder on snakes and lizards than assumed. They say up to 83 percent of all snake and lizard species died off. "Lizards and snakes rivaled the dinosaurs in terms of diversity, making it just as much an 'Age of Lizards' as an 'Age of Dinosaurs,'" Longrich noted.
The snake and lizard fossils in their paper were from an area covering New Mexico in the US to Alberta, Canada. They also identified nine new lizards and snakes. "It is a small polyglyphanodontian distinguished by tall, slender teeth with large central cusps separated from small accessory cusps by lingual grooves," they write of Obamadon, which they determined from from the jaw bones of two specimens. Longrich said it was about a foot long and probably ate insects.
The Polyglyphanodontia lizards were up to 40 percent of all lizards in North America then, they say, and when they realized it was a new species they decided on Obamadon gracilis. Gracilis means "slender" and Obama certainly is that. He's also more fun than most presidents, as this photo showing him pulling a weight-related prank can attest:
Credit: White House blog
But "tall, slender teeth with large central cusps"? isn't that racist? All Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki did was try to grow a body like Serena Williams and she was criticized.
Credit and link: Daily Mail which, despite publishing total rubbish, is 1 million times more profitable than Science 2.0.
She's from Europe, they can't be racist, that only happens in the country where a black guy is in charge.
Citation: Nicholas R. Longricha, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullarb and Jacques A. Gauthier, 'Mass extinction of lizards and snakes at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary', PNAS December 10, 2012 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211526110